Put This in Your Pipe

One pot meals rule the roost in my book. It is ever so convenient to work with one pot. Less activity for the dishwasher. Add your ingredients, which you usually cook in stages to build flavor. Then, it is frequently lid on and leave it be with the stove or the oven for a calculated period of time. Aside from an occasional peek here or stir there, no need to babysit. Do your thing as it cooks. In addition to possibly preparing rice, a vegetable or perhaps chopping some fresh herbs to serve as a garnish, this is usually it. No muss or fuss.

Last Spring we were at the farmers market near to the city’s airport. Almost every stall was selling okra. I had never prepared it before so thought to myself, no time like the now. Honestly, to this point, the only time in my life I had ever eaten okra was back during my college days. Or nights I should say. We had an after hours haunt that served fried okra by the scoopful. Dipped in ketchup it was the cat’s meow. I can relive the taste and texture as I type. These were especially satisfying at two in the morning after a night on the town. This place was also famous for its buttered corn, mac and cheese, incredible biscuits and fried chicken, if you dared. Oh cherish the days when the concept of calories was wholly foreign to me.

At the market near to our house, I saw an Indian man carefully picking through the massive bins of green and selecting pods. I was not able to ascertain the rhyme and reason and so I asked him to please show us what we should be looking for. With a big grin, he patiently instructed us to use a thumb to snap off the pointed end. If it popped off easily, you have a keeper. If not, keep on digging. Dig we did and this became a weekly activity. A rewarding one at that. We would give each other high fives upon filling a bag thanks to our new found knowledge. It is the little things in life. Last summer we ate loads of okra. Once pickled but mostly halved and roasted with olive oil and kosher salt. I would put a baking sheet of them out on the counter on Saturday afternoons and we snacked as the day ensued. Low calorie and scrumptious.

So when we were at the grocer recently and I saw okra back on shelves, I knew we were in business. I had actually come across a recipe recently for an African stew that called for okra, peanut butter, potatoes, chicken and Matthew’s favorite, green cabbage. He grew up picking this from the garden on his grandmother’s farm in Eastern North Carolina. She would lovingly prepare it to his tastes with lots of vinegar. Despite my time spent in Germany and being faced with sauerkraut on a regular basis, it is only quite recently that I have acquired a taste for cabbage. Not too long ago, we braised a head of red cabbage along with the bone of a pork shoulder. Once we were nearing complete, I added a cup of golden raisins. It was pretty freaking fantastic.

For this particular dish, we filled a bag with snapped okra, supplanted the potatoes for butternut squash and peanut butter for that of the almond sort, picked up a couple of packets of chicken and got to work. The color combination of this stew is just beautiful. It is one of those dishes than when complete, you simply want to look at it. More important than appearances, it is a healthy dish with an heir of decadence and richness thanks to the almond butter. 

This medley earned big scores in the one pot wonder category. The broth that this stew yields is stupendous.  I can almost guarantee that after your meal, you will return to the pot with a spoon. Just one more bite. This said, be sure to serve yours with nutty brown rice, white pilaf or a crusty loaf so as to sponge it all up. Or pretend it is a hearty soup and dig in. Your stew is perfect for a dinner party or leftovers as it generates enough food for two dinners (two helpings each) and a generous lunch as well as hearty snack in between. 

Màfe Ginaar (Peanut and Chicken Stew)
Adapted from Saveur 


2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 lb chicken breasts or skinless chicken thighs or mix of the two – chopped into medallions
5 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 large onion – chopped
¼ cup of tomato paste
1 jalapeno – Habanero or Scotch bonnet chile was recommended - chopped
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup of almond butter – peanut butter will work as well
5 cups of chicken stock
8 large carrots – split down the middle and cut into 3 inch pieces
15 okra pods – cut in half lengthwise
3 cups of chopped butternut squash – 2 sweet potatoes chopped will also work
1 head of green cabbage – cut into 8 wedges and leave the core in its place
The juice of 4 limes
Kosher salt
Black pepper
White or brown rice for serving


1. Cut up all your vegetables and place aside. This includes the cabbage, carrots, okra, jalapeño and squash or potatoes. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 TBS oil over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add your chicken in a single layer and brown both sides. This should take around ten to fifteen minutes. Once nice and golden, please transfer your chicken to a plate.

2. Now that the bottom of your pot is covered in lovely bits thanks to the chicken browning session, add the onion and garlic. Stir until translucent. Now add the tomato paste and stir for around two minutes. Add your almond butter, jalapeno and bay leaf. Give a big stir and let it cook for around three to four minutes. The fragrances should be quite alluring right about now. This means it is a good time to add your stock and stir until uniform in texture.

3. Now reintroduce your chicken to the pot along with the carrots, okra, butternut squash or potatoes and cabbage. Add a healthy pinch of kosher salt and some fresh cracked pepper to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover your dish and let it cook for around 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

4. Once your veggies are of the desired texture, please add the juice of four limes to the pot and give a big stir. Scoop out your meat and vegetables, serve with nutty brown or white rice and grab another spoon to drizzle the epic broth over the top.

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