African Peanut Stew

Main Ingredients
chicken coconut milk peanut butter phyllo dough popcorn sweet potato

Loved this challenge! I googled “sweet potatoes” and “peanut butter”, saw a lot of African Peanut Stew recipes, and immediately knew that’s what I would make. I’ve never had it before but it sounded really yum. I figured I’d make some kind of bowl out of the phyllo dough, but I was REALLY worried that the stew would just run right through the delicate phyllo and it would quickly fall apart. I almost switched to a popcorn bowl with a phyllo topping, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns, because the bowl really held up. I made the bowl using an extra-large muffin pan that I have (and don’t use often enough!) I made sure that the stew was thickened and slightly cooled, and I double-reinforced the bottom of the phyllo “bowl”. I ended up simply sprinkling crushed popcorn on top of the stew, kind of like croutons.

I wasn’t planning to add coconut milk, but when I tasted the stew, I kind of was reminded of jungle curry. I love Thai curries but I never get the “jungle” variety… I just prefer the sweet creamy flavor added by the coconut milk. So, I decided to make this peanut stew with coconut milk, which was a good decision.

The girl was away at camp this week, so she wasn’t around to taste. But the boy and the husband really liked it. We all agreed that the phyllo bowls were too big… the stew would be best enjoyed as smaller bites. Instead of the extra-large muffin pan, I might use a smaller pan (or even a mini-muffin pan!) We ate these like finger food instead of with a spoon … the stew was thick enough that it held up if you took a bite right out of the cup. The boy put extra popcorn on top… it tasted great!


African Peanut Stew


For the filling
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs chicken parts (or 1/2 chicken, cut up)
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp chopped ginger (I love Gourmet Garden when I don't have fresh)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 small tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Brown the chicken parts and remove from pot. Put onion, ginger, garlic and sweet potatoes into pot and saute until all are softened. Add coriander, curry and white pepper.
Add chicken stock and tomato puree; stir. Add tomatoes and peanut butter; stir. Return chicken parts back to the pot. Heat stew over medium-high heat, uncovered, for 1-1/2 hours. Keep the cover off so some of the liquid boil off and the stew thickens.
After 1-1/2 hours, the potatoes and chicken should be completely soft. Remove the chicken from the stew, remove the bones, and pull the chicken apart so it's shredded. Return to pot. Add coconut milk, stir, and heat, covered, for 30 minutes. 
For the crust
  • 1/2 box frozen phyllo dough
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted 
Use a pastry brush to brush some melted butter in an extra-large muffin cup tray (6 muffins). Unroll package of phyllo dough. Cut in half so you have square-ish sheets. Brush one side of one sheet with melted butter, then form it inside a muffin cup. Repeat so there is a total of five layered half-sheets of phyllo in each muffin cup. Fold another sheet of phyllo in half several times so it fits in the bottom of a muffin cup, on top of the five layered sheets. This gives extra insulation on the bottom of the cup. Repeat for the other cups. 
Bake phyllo bowls at 400 degrees until browned. Remove from muffin tray and let cool. Repeat to make 6 more bowls.
Remove the stew from the heat and let cool slightly. Fill each phyllo cup with stew.
For the topping
  • 2 cups kettle corn (popcorn), crushed
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped

 Sprinkle crushed popcorn and chopped cilantro on top of the stew, and serve warm.

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