No. 294: African Beef & Peanut Stew

I read this recipe and the lovely story that went with it and was immediately intrigued. I couldn't walk away. I had to try this.

Plus, I had a busy to-do list to keep me occupied while this dish simmered away on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Our nursery pictures weren't going to hang themselves.

Nursery pics

I could look at those sweet faces all day!

African Beef & Peanut Stew


Serves 4
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 pounds beef, cut into chunks
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 cups water
6 tomatoes, seeded and chopped*
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup chunky natural peanut butter
Salt and pepper to taste

*It's not quite tomato season, so I used a combination of cherry tomatoes that were in the fridge and canned. I found this handy Fine Cooking article to figure out the conversion rates.

To make

Take a Dutch oven, pour a little oil on the bottom, and set it over medium-high heat. Let the pan get very hot, then add the beef chunks. Do not crowd the beef. Make sure the chunks do not touch. Cook the beef until it's nicely browned, about 2-3 minutes on each side. You may have to do a few batches of this, depending on how much meat you're using. Set the beef chunks aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add some more oil to the pot, then add the onions. Stir them around so they get all the flavor from the meaty bits at the bottom of the pan. Sauté until softened. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for 2-3 more minutes.

Return the beef chunks to the pot and add water to cover (about 2 cups). Add tomatoes, cayenne, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Ready to simmer

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until meat is tender, about 2 hours. If you find the stew getting too thick, add a little more water or some more tomatoes while it continues to cook.

Once the meat feels tender enough to puncture with a fork, add the peanut butter and continue to simmer until the meat is very tender (it should easily flake apart) and the veggies have cooked down into a nice gravy, about another hour.

Peanut butter added

At this point, taste it and adjust the seasonings and peanut butter as desired. If the stew is too juicy, you can use cornstarch to thicken the gravy, but you usually won't have to do that. This is a very forgiving recipe. You can adjust all of the ingredients somewhat without causing a problem.

Final thickening

When stew is thickened to your liking, serve over rice with a side of naan, pita or ideally homemade chapati. It's even better the next day once the flavors have really melded, so it makes great leftovers.

The results

Oh gosh. This is good.

The slow cooking takes some patience over a long afternoon, but I promise it's so very worth it. Once you add the peanut butter, everything thickens to a nice stewy gravy. Yum.

The sauce also never got too thick; two cups of water seemed pretty perfect.

We ate a couple bowls with pita bread and stored the rest in the freezer for post-baby eating.

Looking for an alternative to curry or traditional beef stew? This will be a nice addition to your repertoire.

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Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina