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Mafé (Peanut Stew)--Cook-Off 28

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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 02:35 PM

Welcome to this second anniversary eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index.

A click on that index shows that, while the Cook-Offs have ventured throughout the globe, but they've never stopped in Africa. One could say we've passed through -- gumbo, for example, is widely acknowledged to have roots in Africa, among other places. So, for the first Cook-Off rooted in African cuisine, we'll be cooking up mafé, otherwise known as peanut or groundnut stew.

Mafé is a traditional west African dish that can be found in the kitchens of Senegal and Mali. It's often served with a starch of some sort (rice, most often) to soak up the nutty stew juices, or, alternately, the starch is part of the stew itself, resulting in a drier braise. While there are a few mentions of mafé in eG Forums, there are no discussions of actually preparing it that I can find except this brief post by yours truly. There are a few recipes elsewhere, including this stew-like one and this more braise-y one, both of which are from the Food Network.

Mafé is a forgiving cold-weather dish, and one that, like most stews, benefits from reheating (read: swell as leftovers). I'm convinced that mafé is one of the great one-pot dishes in global cuisine, built on a solid base of sautéed onions, peanut-thickened stock, and hearty meat. Like other classics such as gumbo, cassoulet, and bibimbap, it affords tremendous variation within those guides; it would be hard to find very many vegetables that haven't made an appearance in a mafé pot somewhere, and there are lots of possibilities concerning herbs and spices. (I like to increase the heat quite a bit with cayenne, which I think plays off the silk of the nut oil just perfectly, for example.)

Finally, it's a pleasant surprise if you've never had a savory peanut dish before, and kids in particular tend to think it is the bee's knees. The kitchen fills with a heady aroma -- browned onion, ground peanuts -- that's hard to describe and resist.

So: who's up for mafé?
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#2 snowangel

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 02:58 PM

Hmmm. I'm thinking a vehicle for venison, which not traditional, might just take to this preparation.

So, how heretic is it to use Skippy's super chrunch (preference of the masses at the Fahning house hold)?

Spices? What are suggestions, keeping in mind that we do like things on the zippy side.

Chris, as many of us enter a holiday season, this seems like a perfect dish. So, you don't get to it that night, tomorrow it will reheat beautifully!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#3 Milagai

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:03 PM

Hey: we make this very frequently.
Recipe from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic
and Regional Recipes.

It's called West African Peanut Stew there,
and it's very like the links you posted; only sans meat.

I've tweaked it as usual to up the spices to suit
our family - Moosewood recipes on their own
are dreadfully bland.

More or less, what we make is:

1. Saute onions, grated ginger, and cayenne in hot oil; a
touch of cinnamon won't go amiss.....
2. Add diced sweetish veggies (e.g. carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.)
and water, and simmer till veggies are totally cooked.
3. Add tomato puree and simmer.
4. Puree unless you're OK with veggie cubes.
5. Add some green peas if liked, and salt to taste.
7. Add hunks of creamy peanut butter and mix thoroughly
and simmer.
8. Sprinkle a fair amount of fresh chives, chopped.

Done.

We love this stuff, kids, adults and all...

Milagai

#4 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:13 PM

That looks great, Milagai -- and I've never seen chives before, but that makes a lot of sense to me.

Susan, the two links above have a few examples on the spices. I agree with Milagai about the cinnamon, and would also say that thyme, allspice, clove, bay, and cumin -- in the appropriate combinations -- would work. Fiddle, please, and report back.

Meanwhile, I have seen a few recipes that call specifically for chunky peanut butter, and the processing that produces brands like Skippy tends to make the stew creamier.
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#5 John S.

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:17 PM

Hey:  we make this very frequently. 
1.  Saute onions, grated ginger, and cayenne in hot oil; a
touch of cinnamon won't go amiss.....
2.  Add diced sweetish veggies (e.g. carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.)
and water, and simmer till veggies are totally cooked.
3.  Add tomato puree and simmer. 
4.  Puree unless you're OK with veggie cubes.
5.  Add some green peas if liked, and salt to taste.
7.  Add hunks of creamy peanut butter and mix thoroughly
and simmer. 
8.  Sprinkle a fair amount of fresh chives, chopped.
Milagai

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That sounds like a great recipe. I'll try it right around Chrtistmas and report back. BTW, would a few dried bird'seye chiles help for those of us who like a lot of spice? Chris thanks for creating this thread!

John S.

#6 ChryZ

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:21 PM

Sounds great! I'm in and already reading up.
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#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:25 PM

Bird chiles work just fine, as would habaneros. I wouldn't worry too much about blistering out all of the other subtleties with those two, as they tend to sit above the other flavors. Something like and ancho, however, wouldn't seem to work as well, as it would get a bit muddy in there -- but who knows?
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#8 Jensen

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:30 PM

My sister brought a really great recipe for groundnut stew with her when she moved back to Canada from Liberia. Perhaps I should ask her for it...

#9 Ktepi

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 03:50 PM

I happened to look at eGullet before deciding what dinner would be (a grilled cheese sandwich was a frontrunner), so on the stove I now have:

Chopped turkey breast
Minced fresh ginger
Diced piri piri chiles
Peeled chopped garnet yams
1/2 link smoked chaurice sausage
a cup or so of shredded beet greens
Smuckers Natural peanut butter (chunky)
turkey stock
allspice, cumin, ground Tabasco chile, black pepper, salt

I'm out of: cinnamon, tomato, onion, garlic. Almost used Peppadews instead of the piri piris.

Normally I'd use dark meat instead of white, but the week before Thanksgiving I had made confit with the thighs and wings, stock with the drumsticks and carcass, and had frozen the breast meat -- so it's what I had on hand. The chaurice ... well, I got my annual Poche's order the other day and happened to have half a link in the fridge. It makes it sound a bit like peanut gumbo, which is why I resisted the urge to add okra or bay leaves.

#10 snowangel

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 04:46 PM

So, just what do we suppose a smoked poultry stock would do to this?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#11 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 06:49 PM

Jensen, I really do hope you'll grab that recipe and share it with us.

Susan, I think that's an excellent question. Time to take one for the team...?
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#12 edsel

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 07:17 PM

Marcus Samuelsson has a recipe for Chicken-Peanut Stew in his new book Soul of a New Cuisine. He learned about the stew from a Malian dishwasher at Aquavit, so I guess it's a sort of mafé.

Ingredients are:
onion
carrot
chilies
ginger
bay
pepper
chicken
peanuts
potatoes
tomatoes
spinach

I've made creamy / spicy peanut soup before, but nothing quite so elaborate.

Samuelsson's recipe sounds interesting to me - maybe I'll try to join in on this cook-off. :smile:

#13 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 07:33 PM

I think that ain't sort of mafé, edsel. Looks like the real deal.
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#14 snowangel

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 08:01 PM

Advice needed on chilies. Reference above to piri piri chilies, which I know nothing about.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#15 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 08:07 PM

They're a version of bird chiles: click.
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#16 Jensen

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 08:18 PM

Jensen, I really do hope you'll grab that recipe and share it with us.

View Post



I've sent my sister an email, asking if she would send it to me.

In the meantime, I've got a pantry version of it on the stove right now. I probably won't take a picture of it because it kind of looks like cat sick... :unsure:

#17 Jensen

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 09:20 PM

Okay, the official recipe, directly from Liberia:

Liberian Peanut "Soup"

Place washed chicken (I use drum sticks) in a bowl and toss with (small) seasoning salt. Heat palm oil in a large pot (like soup pot) at high heat and brown the chicken, do in small quantities. Set browned chicken aside.

Chop one onion and 5 small hot red chili peppers (they are the real little skinny ones. This is hot so reduce to taste or don't put in all the seeds that is the hot part.)

In the same oil as chicken was browned in, add the onions and chilies. Saute. Then add 3 cups of water, 3 boullion cubes, 1 tbsp. of tomato paste and 4 tbsp. ground peanuts (can use peanut butter). Return the chicken to the soup mixture and heat through. The dish is ready when the chicken is well cooked, falling off the bone and the sauce is well reduced.

Just a side note.
I like the "potato gravy" version better.
It is the same but with the chicken you add potato quarters (as many as you think - cause they are the best part). and you leave out the ground peanuts.

Oh ya, you are supposed to cook it over an open fire and serve with rice.



#18 ChryZ

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 12:27 AM

Advice needed on chilies.  Reference above to piri piri chilies, which I know nothing about.

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I used piripiri in the past and they're very hot. Twice as hot as cayenne, half as hot as habanero.

Pequin might be a very decent option.
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#19 suzilightning

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 08:07 PM

adapted a recipe we had done before from Dr. Jessica Harris for a West African Sweet Potato and Red Bean Stew.

5 chicken drumsticks
sweet onion ( about 2) chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed(didn't have time to cook my own)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 small red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
small knob ginger, peeled and grated - maybe 1-2 tsp
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp garam masala
1 can diced tomatoes
3 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded, diced
3 Tbsp peanut butter
chopped dry-roasted peanuts
lime wedges

Roast the halved, seeded poblanos in a hot oven(450-500) for about 15 minutes. Put into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to steam. After about 10 minutes peel and chop roughly.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sear in Dutch oven in a filming of neutral oil(i used Enova). Remove from Dutch oven to a plate. Add 1 tsp. more oil and add onions. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for several minutes more, until tender. Add sweet potatoes and bell peppers. Stir and cook for another minute or two. Add the spices - salt, white pepper and cumin(I didn't have any so I substitued the garam masala I did have). Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the pot, nestling it into the vegetables. Add the vegetable broth, ginger, and poblano chiles. Bring to a boil then lower to a bare simmer for about 1 hour. Pinch the meat from the bones of the chicken and discard the bones. Add the red beans. Remove about a cup of the liquid from the stew and whisk in the peanut butter. Return the mixture to the stew and incorporate. Return to the heat. Serve alone garnished with chopped dry-roasted peanuts and lime wedges alone or over rice.


dinner tonight and for tomorrow for us.

Edited by suzilightning, 10 December 2006 - 08:08 PM.

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#20 ChryZ

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 01:26 AM

I've studied like 10 recipes and this is my take on the dish:

Mafé / Groundnut Stew / Peanut Stew

ingredients

6 X chicken breast (cubed)
2 X bay leave
3 X onions (diced)
9 X dried chiles (roasted, ground)
8 X green beans (topped, tailed and halved)
1 X sweet potato (chunk'd)
3 X carrots (chunk'd)
1 X turnip (chunk'd)
3 X celery stalk (chopped)
400 G skinned tomatoes in their juice (14 oz)
1 CUP peanuts (fresh/raw, roasted, ground)
2 CUP chicken stock
2 TBSP tyhme
4 TBSP peanut oil
1 TBSP butter

prep work first

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(so I made fresh peanut butter for the very first time ... accidentally, hehe)

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the stew itself was pretty straight forwards, browned the chicken in peanut oil and butter, sauted onions/celery/carrots, added tomatoes, then chicken stock, then turnip chunks, then ground peanut paste, then tyhme, then sweet potato and green beans and simmered it until done (~60 min in total)

served with a mix of wild and long grain rice

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final thoughts on the dish: the ground nuts really add a nice thick, creamy, nuttiness (without an overly strong peanutty flavour!) and the thyme really cuts right through it in a very refreshing way, truely delicious ... instant classic indeed, highly recommendable

regarding the seasoning, I found these combinations:

-bay leave, thyme
-cumin, cinnamon, cloves, coriander
-cumin, cinnamon, clove, bay leave, thyme, allspice
-cinnamon, paprika

for my first try I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, maybe I'll toy around with another combo next time, but I'm not really sure about the other ones: cumin, cinnamon, cloves are all very earthy and they might dull down the dish too much, but I might be wrong

Edited by ChryZ, 12 December 2006 - 12:20 AM.

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#21 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 07:43 AM

This thread makes me think of our own peanut stew in the Philippines - Kare kare.

We don't put any spices in it like cumin, chilis, thyme, etc. nor tomato sauce. The veggies in kare-kare usually include banana heart, long string beans, eggplants and bok choy. For a detailed recipe, I am linking a fellow Filipino food blogger - Kare Kare
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#22 ianpollitt

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 05:17 AM

This dish sounds similar to African Chicken, which I think used to be a popular dish in Macau. I have a recipe at home which uses pheasant by Clarissa Dickson-Wright (British TV chef). Absolutely delicious, but very rich so I was intending trying it with chicken instead. Seems to me from all your recipes that this would work better - and I'll try thyme with it, thanks for the recommendation.

I'll find the recipe if anyone's interested, but it's pretty simple, involving onions, tinned tomatoes, chillies, and crunchy peanut butter.

#23 Mar Calpena

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 05:28 AM

I traveled around Senegal in the summer of 2005 -the photo in my avatar was taken in Ziguinchor- and Mafe was one of the things we encountered most often. It was always served (at least, to us) over rice and had no carrots in it. Meat was goat or lamb. Most ingredients were undistinguishable once they had been cooked for quite a while, and definitely the peanut flavour was not a side note but central to the dish.

This post brought memories of Thie Bou Dien (fish cooked over rice with root vegetables) and Poulet Yassa (grilled and served with lemon, pepper and onions). Onions seemed to be a central part of Senegalese food. An onion omelet was the most common breakfast, and they seemed to pop in every other dish.



Edited for annoying typos.

Edited by Mar Calpena, 13 December 2006 - 05:57 AM.

Middlebrow Catalan gastronomy??????
http://baixagastronomia.blogspot.com/

#24 ChryZ

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 07:51 AM

I traveled around Senegal in the summer of 2005 -the photo in my avatar was taken in Ziguinchor- and Mafe was one of the things we encountered most often. It was always served (at least, to us) over rice and had no carrots in it. Meat was goat or lamb. Most ingredients were undistinguishable once they had been cooked for quite a while, and definitely the peanut flavour was not a side note but central to the dish.

View Post

Thanks for your insights, they are hard to come by. I guess my next take is going to be with lamb, less tomatoes (I think, they've mellowed the peanut flavour) and no carrots.
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#25 suzilightning

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 03:15 PM

I traveled around Senegal in the summer of 2005 -the photo in my avatar was taken in Ziguinchor- and Mafe was one of the things we encountered most often. It was always served (at least, to us) over rice and had no carrots in it. Meat was goat or lamb. Most ingredients were undistinguishable once they had been cooked for quite a while, and definitely the peanut flavour was not a side note but central to the dish.

View Post

Thanks for your insights, they are hard to come by. I guess my next take is going to be with lamb, less tomatoes (I think, they've mellowed the peanut flavour) and no carrots.

View Post


i'm going for the goat next time .... just won't tell johnnybird.
The first zucchini I ever saw I killed it with a hoe.

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#26 Mar Calpena

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 03:22 AM

I found a photograph of Mafe, taken during my trip.

If this works, Mafe is the stew on the right...

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Taken in Kedougu, Senegal, August 23, 2005.

Edited by Mar Calpena, 14 December 2006 - 03:49 AM.

Middlebrow Catalan gastronomy??????
http://baixagastronomia.blogspot.com/

#27 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 11:41 AM

I think that I'll be making mafé Sunday for dinner. I'm planning to serve it with plain white rice, but I'm also wondering about sides. Does anyone have any ideas? I'd be particularly interested to know about any pickles or other acidic elements I can add.
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#28 Adam Balic

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 02:04 PM

I missed this until now, it looks really great. A Zimbabwean friend tells me that they have a very similar dish for special occasions called "Dovi". In fact it is near identical (sometimes okra is added), but the spice level is lower. It would be served with Sadza (cornmeal mush/polenta) and greens like pumpkin leaves. I will give it a go over then next few days.

#29 Chris Amirault

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 10:36 AM

I think that I'll be making mafé Sunday for dinner.

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And that I did:

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I started by frying a ginger, onion, garlic paste as a base, added the spices, stock, and peanut butter, and letting that cook for a while. The vegetables were onions, green beans, butternut squash, sweet potato, and kale. I kept it pretty tame because it was for chile-fearing guests, but as I'm defrosting the leftovers now for lunch this week, I think I'll be spicing it up quite a bit.
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#30 Chris Hennes

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 07:10 PM

I've never had, or even heard of, Mafé, until I saw this cook-off. But peanuts are now in season so I bought a big bag of them raw this weekend, along with some turnips, sweet potatoes, and green beans. I roughly followed the guidelines in previous posts, mostly just making it up as I went.

I started by sauteeing a standard mirepoix until softened, then added a tablespoon or so of a commercial garam masala blend and got that cooking in the oil for a few minutes to toast the spices. Then I added pureed tomatoes and homemade chicken stock (one 14oz can of tomatoes and three cups of stock). I shelled and roasted a cup of peanuts and pureed them into peanut butter, then added in some of the heated mixture from the pot to loosen it up and make it blend easier. I added this into the pot along with a turnip, and ten minutes later a sweet potato, both cut into 1/2 in. dice. After another ten minutes I added a big handful of green beans, chopped to around 1 in (probably around 2 cups once chopped). Some salt and cayenne to taste, and simmered for another hour or so. This was the result:
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It was quite tasty, and had a very nice texture from the peanut butter (one cup of peanuts is quite a bit, and has some thickening power). Next time I will wait a little longer before adding the sweet potato, which was overcooked to my taste, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I don't each much food from this corner of the world, and it's always fun to experiment with new things.

I should note that I had originally intended to toss in some roasted chicken I had in the fridge, but in the end I didn't think it needed it. The root vegetables and beans give it plenty of body, and it really didn't feel like it lacked for a protein.

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