Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Michiganian Peanut Stew

Once upon a time I thought peanut butter was for spreading on toast and peanuts the only snack legally allowed to be served on airplanes. Now thanks to my lovely Ghanaian and Bolivian friends from university I know that you can throw them together with a few greens and seasonings and make an awesome stew too!

I don't particularly enjoy cooking meat (ugh) and prefer to make the vegan version of this recipe, but I've included non-vegan options below for the must-eat-meat-atarians out there. My recipe is a blend of a couple of recipes I found online plus the recipe of a Ghanaian friend and is therefore both entirely adjusted to my own personal tastes and also wholly inauthentic.

Michiganian Peanut Stew

2 tablespoons of olive or peanut oil
1 large onion (chopped)
1 large red onion (chopped)
Pepper (to taste)
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 pound of chicken (optional)
6 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger (minced)
3 large tomatoes (minced)
8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
32 ounces of canned garbanzo beans/chickpeas (optional)
3 cubed potatoes, with or without skin (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of collard greens* (shredded/chopped)
16-ounce jar of organic peanut butter**
Salt (to taste)
2 cups of rice (optional)

*I use collard greens, but I imagine you could easily substitute spinach or another dark, leafy green of your choice if you have strong preferences in the greens department. By a bunch I mean about a quarter pound - it shouldn't be enough to fill a pot on its own, but it will likely look like too much to you when you start out. (It did to me!)
**You don't necessarily have to buy organic, but the peanut butter does need to be normal peanut butter, not the highly processed Jif-style peanut butter spread that most Americans think of as peanut butter.

1) Lord, bless!
2) Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat and sautee the onions until they start to get translucent, at which point add the garlic, ginger, pepper, and red pepper flakes to the onions and continue sauteeing the whole mix until the onions are soft. Go easy on the pepper and red pepper flakes - you can always add more when the stew is finished if need be. If you want to make this a peanut chicken stew, then add the chicken when the onions begin to soften and continue cooking until the chicken is browned.
3) Add the tomatoes to the onions and cook them together for a couple of minutes.
4) Add the stock, drained garbanzo beans, bay leaves, and greens to the tomatoes and onions and bring the mixture to a boil. (I prefer Better Than Bouillon when preparing vegetable stock, but I've found that less is sometimes more with their products, so be cautious and adjust how much you use to your tastes preferences.)
5) Once the stew has begun to boil reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and let everything simmer for 15 minutes. If you want to add rice to the completed stew or have it as an option at the table, then get going on that now!
6) Stir in the peanut butter, salt (if needed), potatoes (if desired), cooked rice (if desired), and any additional seasonings and simmer the stew for another 20 minutes or so.
7) Take the pot off the stove, remove the bay leaves, and enjoy! (Unless you have a peanut allergy, in which case you may just want to stick with the rice if it's not already in there!)

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