Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"well when i was in africa": or beth's birthday week stew

We're really big into birthdays in my family.  Like they're a big deal.  Like they last a whole week deal (sometimes I try to milk it out for an entire month, but the rest of the gang rarely indulges).  And this week is all about my mother, Beth Ellen.  Her birthday isn't until Friday, but the celebrations have already begun.  Yesterday, my brother spent the better part of the afternoon concocting a special cocktail for the birthday girl - an orange creamsicle martini.  It required many variations and much taste testing, but he nailed it just in time to greet the birthday girl as she got home from work with a drink.  While she was enjoying her cocktail, I was putting the finishing touches on her specially-chosen dinner.

Now normally when I ask my mother what she wants for dinner, she gets frustrated.  Mainly because I ask her everyday.  Usually more than once.  And usually before 10 AM.  But this time it was Beth who called me for the dinner-prep chat.  Before I could get done saying hello, she cut me off with "I want that African stew tonight."  I had stumbled across a recipe for a West African peanut stew a few weeks ago and immediately showed it to Beth - not only does she love stew and all things peanutty, but she has a very strong attachment to Africa.  About ten years ago, she had her first of many trips to Africa - participating in a walk for the Elizabeth Glazier Pediatric AIDS Foundation in South Africa.  I think she really fell in love with the country, especially the people that she met.  She couldn't stop talking about it.  I'd leave her alone for five minutes in the grocery store and next thing I know she's turned to the bag boy going, "Well, when I was in Africa..."  (a decade later and we still tease her relentlessly about it).  So, on a foggy, rainy birthday-week night, this stew seemed like the most perfect thing to have for dinner.

Beth's Birthday Stew
olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tbs ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup unsalted, smooth peanut butter
½ cup tomato paste
6 cups vegetable stock 
1 bunch collard greens, chopped
salt & pepper

+ In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, stir so that they are evenly covered with oil.  Salt generously and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.  Once the onions are translucent, add the ginger and garlic.  Add a little bit of stock - this not only deglazes the pot and prevents burning, but it helps to create a nice base for the stew.  Once the onions are caramelized and the mixture is nice and thick, add the rest of the stock.  Turn the heat up and bring to a low boil.
+ While the onions are cooking down, combine peanut butter and tomato paste in a large bowl.  Add a couple ladles-full of hot stock from the pot into the bowl.  Stir until smooth, adding more hot stock if necessary.
+ Turn the heat to low, then add the peanut-tomato mixture to the pot, stirring until well combined.  Add the collards, cooking until the greens are wilted, stirring occasionally.  Salt, pepper, and sriracha to taste - but let's be honest, the more spice the better.
+ Serve to the birthday girl warm and garnished with peanuts in a orange clay bowl.  Pour over brown rice or slop it up with a big hunk of crusty bread or both.

No comments:

Post a Comment