I’ve been cooking a lot of warm, comfort food-type dishes over the past week because the weather’s been fairly overcast and cool. It’s part of breaking away from the every-day grilling routine and getting back to the fall and winter routine for me.
At any rate, we published a recipe in our Good Neighbors Fund cookbook, “Flavors of Home,” last year called Chicken Senegalese Stew. It was a favorite on the menu at Angler’s Cafe, which used to be located on 2nd Street near Blue 5 in downtown Roanoke. I enjoyed it at Angler’s but have never made a batch for myself. The flavors of coconut milk, curry powder, lime juice and cilantro married with hearty vegetables and chicken sounded perfect on Sunday.
Steve VanMetre, the chef/owner of Angler’s who shared this recipe with the newspaper many years ago, told my predecessor Beth Macy that he rarely uses recipes. “I’ll tell you one of the four ways I make it,” he told her. I have no doubt that if you follow this recipe precisely, it’ll turn out a delicious stew. But I took a cue from Steve and altered it to suit my situation. I’ve been gobbling it up for lunch and dinner all week and have yet to get tired of it.
First, I wanted to toss in some nice veggies from the farmers market that weren’t called for in the recipe. I omitted the snow peas and used some peeled, sliced baby eggplant, some sliced zucchini and a handful of fresh green beans. I kept the carrot, onion, garlic, potatoes and chick peas.
I also wanted to use some meat from a pre-roasted chicken, so I started by sauteeing the onion and garlic, then added curry powder followed by two cans of chicken stock and all the firm vegetables. They simmered and when they were getting tender, I added two cans of coconut milk (OK, so I’m an addict. Don’t judge me), the chick peas, the chicken, and all the rest of the ingredients. I doubled the peanut butter and used crunchy so I didn’t have to buy peanuts to chop up. If you make this, don’t leave out the Major Gray mango chutney. You can find it in the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store.
Tip: If you need to buy curry powder, you can find it for much less at an ethnic market. I bought a large bag at Ambika on Brambleton Avenue for $3, and when I went to the grocery store, I saw it for as much as $7 for an average-sized jar. Coconut milk is also often less expensive at ethnic markets, but you may not find the light version there.
Do you remember this stew from Angler’s menu? If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think.
Angler’s Cafe Chicken Senegalese Stew
Angler’s Cafe was a popular restaurant located on 2nd Street in Roanoke. This was one of its best dishes. Recipe courtesy of Steve Van Metre.
1 Tbsp. butter (or a little more)
1/3 of an onion, diced small
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 ( 6 ox.) chicken breasts, cut in irregular chunks and dredged in flour.
1 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 carrot, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 smallish red potatoes, sliced thin
1/3 cup canned chickpeas (drained)
Handful of snowpeas
1 Tbsp. flour
32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock, divided
Handful of sweetened coconut flakes plus:
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup peanuts
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
1/2 jar of Major Gray’s mango chutney
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup coconut milk
Handful of chopped cilantro
Green onions, chopped, to taste
1. Melt butter in a large stewpot and saute onions and garlic until onions are beginning to turn clear.
2. Add chicken, then sprinkle with curry powder and cayenne. Flip the chicken once after it’s browned on the bottom side.
3. Stir in carrot, zucchini, potatoes, chick peas and snow peas. Whisk in 1 Tbsp. flour. Pour in 8 oz. stock, whisking as you go, then increase the heat gradually to get stew to a low boil. Add the rest of the stock.
4. Whisk in coconut, lime juice, peanuts, peanut butter, chutney, heavy cream, coconut milk, cilantro and green onions. Simmer about 15 minutes or until stew reaches desired thickness.