There’s a feeling I get when I eat sushi that I can only describe as every molecule in my body reacting to the cleanest, purest protein it can consume. It’s as if the ends of all my neurons start firing in perfect harmony and I want to run down the street screaming, but, like, in a good way.
While the African peanut stew I made tonight isn’t the cleanest, purest protein I could have consumed, it was still pretty great, and I mostly understand why people who go to the gym like it’s a job are into protein consumption. I mean, I know it serves a functional purpose, but I also understand why you freaks feel super jacked about (blech) protein shakes and (blechier blech) paleo diets.
I took a photo of my African peanut stew, but I’m declining to post it because it looks like shit. Like shit shit. I may be doing the stew a disservice with that description, but, like dishes such as posole, bœuf bourguignon and lots and lots of curries, it is ugly but delicious. And I kind of still feel like running down the street screaming.
Bonus that I made it in the Crockpot, which is absolutely essential and I don’t know how whole households go without them in the winter. Some food sites tell you how to make summer foods in the Crockpot, but those sites are not written by people who sit down to eat Crockpot food in tiny apartments in the summer. That’s blogger territory, and there’s a reason why bloggers are like “I am not cooking any fucking stew in my house in fucking July. Fancy margaritas for everyone!”
African Peanut Stew (at least, the way I make it)
1-2 lbs beef stew meat (I got mine from Skagit River Ranch, because if I can’t get Moondance Farm beef in Washington, these guys still know what’s up)
1 16oz. can diced tomatoes (or whole tomatoes crushed with your fucking fists)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 (or more, don’t be a pussy!) cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch piece ginger, grated and minced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 smallish carrots, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
½ small head of cabbage, chopped
½ cup wheatberries, soaked overnight and drained (the Internet says you can also use uncooked brown rice, but I like the texture of wheatberries better and they don’t make things sludgy.)
1 ½ tsp. harissa
1 tbs. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tbs. chili powder
½ tsp. crushed red chili flakes
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
2 tbs. olive oil
1 cup water
2 heaping tbs. peanut butter
1 handful dry roasted peanuts for serving
Okay, first of all, you don’t actually have to brown the meat before you put it in the Crockpot. The Internet says you should, but that Internet is written by people who aren’t throwing a pot of food together at 6am before heading outside to work. If you want to brown the meat – or if you’re making this on a weekend and have actual time on your hands – then please, be my guest.
Throw everything but peanut butter and dry roasted peanuts in the Crockpot and mix well. Turn on low and cook for 8-9 hours (Graham stirred once about halfway through).
Sometime after getting home from work – ideally about an hour before you actually eat, since you probably had a shit day and need a drink first – remove the bay leaves and stir in the peanut butter until combined and heat through.
Serve with flatbread (or not, it’s hearty enough) and top with the peanuts. Maybe add hot sauce if it’s not hot enough for you. It’s supposed to be kind of hot.
(My friend Sarah and I were just talking about music to play when you’re cooking, and I don’t want to sound racist or anything, but this stew is perfect for old R&B and soul. I picked Percy Sledge. In the event that you are making something else with less spice and more, I don’t know, chicken, maybe, I recommend early- to mid-90s alt rock. As I told Sarah, you have not prepped green vegetables until you’ve done it to Sebadoh.)