Ok, OK…this COULD be Sierra Leone peanut butter stew or Gambian peanut butter stew or a nice general North African peanut butter stew, but I wanted to work the word “fez” into the name, and since a fez is Moroccan, it’s Moroccan peanut butter stew.
(Don’t know what a fez is? That’s what Google is for…LOL)
I had never heard of peanut butter stew before last weekend, and I consider my food experiences to be fairly eclectic. Anyway, Irish and I went to an international festival sponsored by a group of charter schools in north metro Atlanta and a part of the festival included a sampling of various foods, including Moroccan. I had already decided earlier while wandering around that I wanted either Curried Oxtails or Jerk Goat from the Jamaican food vendor, but when Irish decided it was time to eat we were in front of a booth with food from Morocco. I looked toward the Jamaican booth and it was over there.
WAY over there.
The other side of the festival over there.
And it was hot.
But dang it…I wanted some Jerk Goat.
But it was hot.
Or Curried Oxtails.
But it was hot.
And the Jamaican booth was over there, remember? WAY over there…
“What ya got?” I asked the Moroccan food dude.
As he listed the possibilities I was half listening, wishing I had a plate full of Oxtails…half listening that is right up until I half heard him say, “…and Peanut Butter Stew.”
Uh…did he just say Peanut Butter Stew? I suppose I COULD eat Moroccan instead of Jamaican…and the Jamaican IS way over there…
“Let me have a plate of Peanut Butter Stew over rice, some Greens, and a side of Fried Plantains.”
Oh my…what a good decision! Somehow, the thought of peanut butter and beef together doesn’t SOUND very good, but the reality of it being on your taste buds is far, far better than the thought of it.
When I finished I went back to the booth and asked if they would give me the recipe. They did, and I re-created it last night to make sure It was as easy as they made it sound (I didn’t want to use y’all as Guinea Pigs)…and it WAS!
Some further research showed this to be a regular dish in North Africa, with some regional differences. Traditionally in Morocco, it is made with lamb, but it can also be made with beef and chicken. I used beef stew meat.
Who can afford lamb, for heaven’s sake!??!
I didn’t see how a recipe so simple could produce such rich and complex flavors, but it does…so don’t pass this by without trying it at least once. I think you’ll find yourself making it over and over. It’s a staple in north African countries, and now will be in my kitchen. It probably will be in yours as well.
Technical note: Contrary to common belief, peanuts are not native to Georgia…LOL…they originated in Africa. For true authenticity in this recipe, you can shell some roasted peanuts and grind them into a paste (a use for this). Peanut butter is a simple substitute.
Technical note number two: Many recipes abound on the net with a similar ingredient list, with some tweaks. Some add hot pepper flakes for some heat, some add green bell peppers for color, and some add yellow and red bell peppers for a LOT of color. This recipe is as authentic as I can determine, and is so good, so absolutely delicious, I won’t be changing it for myself…but go ahead and experiment. If you find a tweak you really like, add it in the comments so other folks can try it.
Let’s make it!: OMG redneck fez Moroccan peanut butter stew
The short version: A delicious and simple authentic North African stew
You need this from the pantry:
- 1 1/2 lbs stew beef (or lamb or chicken)
- 2 cups beef or chicken stock (warm-hot)
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (or ground, roasted peanuts)
- 1 onion (medium to large, chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely diced)
- 2 carrots (unpeeled, diced)
- 1 tomato diced)
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (finely diced) or, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
- cut meat into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes and place in a bowl.
- Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper (pepper fairly heavily).
- In a separate bowl, mix stock and peanut butter (stock hot/warm enough to melt peanut butter).
- In a skillet, on medium-high heat, place oil, onions, and garlic and until the onions are soft/translucent.
- Turn heat under skillet to high and add meat, cooking until meat has been seared on all sides, about 5 minutes.
- Ad stock/peanut butter mixture, tomato paste, diced tomato, diced carrot, bay leaf, and thyme.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cover skillet.
- Cook for one hour, or until meat is tender.
- Discard bay leaf(s) and serve as desired.
Customarily served over rice with greens (collards) as a side.
Small changes for big differences
Traditional meat is lamb, but beef and chicken work well.
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2
Meal type: supper
Culinary tradition: African
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Recipe by Bob.
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