CHICKEN STEW WITH OKRA
This dish, typical of West Africa, is traditionally accompanied by foo-foo (a porridgelike side dish made from corn, sweet potato, plantain, or cassava meal). We strongly recommend serving the stew with rice to sop up the delicious sauce.
1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb) chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 (14- to 15-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup peanut or palm oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
1 lb sweet potato
1 (10-oz) box frozen small okra, thawed
Arrange chicken in 1 layer on a tray, then sprinkle with salt and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
While chicken stands, pulse tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until finely chopped.
Stir water into tomato paste in a small bowl until smooth.
Pat chicken dry. Heat oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, without crowding, in 3 or 4 batches, turning over occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs as browned to a 6- to 7-quart heavy pot. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet, then add onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add onion, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste mixture, garlic paste, and cayenne to chicken in pot.
Whisk together peanut butter and 1 cup broth in a bowl until smooth, then add to chicken along with remaining 3/4 cup broth, stirring to combine well (chicken will not be completely covered with liquid). Bring to a boil, uncovered, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally (to prevent sticking), until chicken is very tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
Peel sweet potato and cut into 1-inch chunks. Stir into stew along with okra, then simmer, covered, until potato is tender but not falling apart, 10 to 12 minutes.
Chicken stew, without sweet potato and okra, can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat stew before proceeding with recipe.
Makes 6 servings.