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"African" Chicken stew
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"African" Chicken stew

This week's dish makes no claim of authenticity: As much as I love roaming the world for food, both in person and vicariously in the kitchen, I can claim neither experience nor expertise with African cookery.

But inspired by the focus on Pinotage in our Wine Tasting 101 forum this month, I put together a dish that at least reflects my impressionistic concept of African style, with a tomato and peanut base and spicy flavors chosen specifically to match this hearty, earthy South African red wine.

While it's not quite as quick as some of the recipes I feature here - it takes a little over an hour in all because I first simmer chicken pieces to make a rich broth, then use the resulting chicken and broth to fashion the finished soup as a second step - it doesn't require constant attention. As a bonus, it's relatively low in fat, using skinless chicken parts, no sauteeing and only a measured ration of peanut butter.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

4 chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion
1 carrot
1 teaspoon (10 grams) salt
12 black peppercorns
3 cups (750 ml) water
1 medium tomato or 2-3 plum tomatoes
1 green bell pepper (or red, yellow or a combination)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Dried red pepper flakes
1/3 cup (85 grams) smooth peanut butter
Black pepper


1. Remove skin from the chicken thighs and trim all visible fat. (Substitute other chicken parts if you prefer.) Peel the carrot. Put the chicken, carrot, peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 of the onion, 1 teaspoon salt, peppercorns and water in a stock pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil, skim off any scummy foam that comes to the top, then reduce heat to very low and cook at a bare simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.

2. Take off heat, remove the chicken thighs, and strain the broth, discarding the vegetables and flavorings. Put the broth back in the pan and keep warm.

3. While the chicken is simmering, prepare the other ingredients. Peel and seed the tomatoes (or use canned tomatoes) and chop them coarsely. Slice the bell pepper(s) into thin slices - cutting them crossways into rings makes an attractive presentation. Cut the other half of the onion into chunks. Stir the cloves, cumin, curry and dried red-pepper flakes into the peanut butter.

4. Put the chopped tomatoes into the broth and simmer for a few moments. I chose to buzz the result with a hand blender at this point to get a smoother soup, but you could just as well leave it alone if you prefer chunky tomato bits.

5. When the chicken pieces are cool enough to handle, pull the meat into bite-size shreds. Put the chicken back in the broth along with the sliced bell peppers and onions, and simmer just until the vegetables are crisp-tender, no more than 10 minutes. Stir in the peanut-butter and spice mix, and add black pepper and additional salt to taste, if needed.

Serve with steamed rice and a green salad or vegetable.

WINE MATCH: As noted, this dish was crafted to go with Pinotage, which typically goes well with earthy and spicy flavors (particularly cloves). It was fine with both a modest 100 percent varietal (Kumala 2000 Western Cape Pinotage) and the popular Pinotage blend from Charles Back, Goats do Roam 2002 South Africa Red Wine.

WEB LINKS: If you want to pursue something more authentic, an excellent South African food Website, with plenty of recipes, is Food24,
(This site is professional in style and content, but at least from this location today, quite slow to load. Give it time. Another good Website with a bit more of a personal touch is Traditional South African Recipes by "Funkymunky,"

To participate in the Wine Tasting 101 discussions on Pinotage, visit

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Thursday, June 19, 2003
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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