This paleo and Whole30 friendly West African chicken stew recipe is from Well Fed 2 cookbook by Melissa Joulwan. It’s creamy, hearty and very satiating.
Forget the dinner plan you had for tonight. Get some chicken thighs and all of the below ingredients and make yourself this rich, hearty, spicy, warm chicken stew.
The recipe comes from Melissa Joulwan’s cookbook Well Fed 2 and she personally recommended that I make this first. I am so glad she did because not only did we demolish it with loud nom nom noises but I also learnt a new little cooking trick.
A few notes on Well Fed 2 and Melissa’s cooking in general. I believe that our taste buds were separated at birth. When I look through the recipes in her book – Moo Shu Pork, BBQ Beef ‘Waffle’ Sandwich, Plantain Nachos, Better Butter, over 15 types of meatballs, bangers and burgers, Lizard Sauce and Pear & Bacon Bites – I think that it’s exactly what I love to eat and how I would cook.
Melissa is not big on sweets and neither am I, but there are so many multicultural flavours and interesting food combinations that even the sweetest of teeth people will get distracted by her savoury creations. All recipes are Whole30 compliant and would be perfect for anyone avoiding sugar, gluten, grains, dairy and legumes. Each recipe comes with a little story about its origin or ingredients or Melissa’s connection to it – she is a great writer as well as a great cook. I am sure you will be eager to check it out once you try her West African Chicken Stew. You can buy the book on Amazon here and you can find out more about it on Melissa’s website, where you can discover many more of her tasty dishes. And, as you might have guessed, there is a Well Fed book part one.
The recipe below is slightly adapted from the original as I had to replace sunflower butter with cashew butter and I’ve added a couple of other spices as I didn’t have cayenne pepper on hand. Cashew or sunflower butter will really thicken the stew making it super rich and creamy.
- ½ tablespoon coconut oil
- 4 skinless chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- ½ medium brown onion, diced (about ½ cup)
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated (about 1 tbsp)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced or minsed (about 1 tbsp)
- ½ tablespoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground chilli
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves
- 400 grams crashed tomatoes ( 1+1/2 cups or 1 can tinned tomatoes)
- ¼ cup water
- 2 + ½ tablespoons cashew butter (1/4 cup sunflower butter in the original recipe but I didn't have any)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cut each chicken thigh into 4-5 pieces and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large saucepan, casserole dish or a deep frying pan over medium-high heat and melt the coconut oil. Add chicken pieces and brown well on both sides, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a bowl, including all the juices.
- In the same saucepan, cook the onion and ginger for about 5-6 minutes on low/medium heat. Add garlic, coriander, paprika, chilli, bay leave and cloves and cook for about 30 seconds to release the aromas. Add tomatoes and water and stir to combine. Add the chicken pieces back in, together with the juices, stir and increase the heat to bring the pot to boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes with the lid on.
- In the original recipe you will remove the chicken from the pot after 25 minutes but I missed that step so I added the cashew or sunflower butter and vanilla to the pot with the chicken in it and mixed to combine and dissolve. Otherwise you would have to add the chicken back in after you've added the butter and vanilla. My way worked just fine as well. Stir and cook all together for a few more minutes, uncovered. Taste for seasoning and add a generous pinch of salt if you wish...I did. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or chopped spring onion and extra sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- We served this stew with a side of pan-fried silver beet/chard, green beans, zucchini and carrots.