North African Chicken and Peanut Stew

Every day, I walk past our glorious cookbook shelf and feel very guilty. I just counted: We have 23 cookbooks, and 11 of them have never been used. Until today, 12. Actually, I should probably say that we've never used recipes from them, because all of them have been read, studied, and salivated over. Today I pulled out one of my lazy-afternoon favorites, Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, and decided to put it to its intended use.

Because it looked too delicious to resist, we chose a recipe for North African Peanut stew. We ended up adapting it a lot, but the book was open while we were cooking so it counts as proper use. Our primary modification was the addition of vegetables, and I think you could even add more if you want. We fed this to everyone who passed through the kitchen this evening (more people than one might think), plus some invited guests, and there was a strong consensus on the side of delicious. Served over rice, this dish is sweet and savory, filling and unique.

Ingredients (makes a lot, maybe 8 servings):
6 chicken breasts
3 tbsp canola oil
2 onions
6 carrots
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
3/4 tsp cayenne, or more to taste
3 cups chopped tomato, fresh or canned
1 bag frozen peas
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp corn starch (optional)
peanuts (optional for garnish)

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan, add chicken and cook until browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Set aside. In a large pot, heat the remaining tbsp oil in a large pot. Add onion, ginger and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in cayenne, tomatoes, and peas, until the tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes, and add to the pot. Add 4 cups stock, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 10 minutes. Whisk or blend together remaining chicken stock with peanut butter, and whisk into the pot mixture. Cook for another 30 minutes or so. Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve, with optional peanuts on top.