Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicken and Spinach in a Creamy Peanut Sauce

The other night, as I was walking through the foggy drizzle of Mbabane on Monday's pedestrian "rush hour," my mind was on what to cook for dinner when I got home. I had some chicken in the fridge, but a simple stir fry with veggies wasn't sounding all that appetizing to me for some reason. I ran through my mental inventory of the ingredients I had in my kitchen, and remembered a small container of finely ground peanut powder I'd bought in town the other day for 4 emalangeni (about $.50). And then I remembered the can of coconut milk I'd found at the local grocery. And the bag of little green chilies. The wheels began to turn. This is what I came up with - a deliciously creamy and subtle dish that ended up being quite simple to put together. The first thing I did was put my brown rice on to boil and by the time the rice was done, so was my main dish. The heat from the chilies is balanced with the subtle taste of peanuts, and the spinach and chicken complement each other beautifully. Even my co-worker, who said she is not a fan of peanuts and made a face when I told her what I was eating, looked up in surprise when she took a bite and said, "But Siphiwe....this is really, really nice!"

Chicken and Spinach in a Creamy Peanut Sauce
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 green onions, chopped
3 green chilies, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic
1 ½ pounds chicken, cut into strips
3 cups spinach, chopped finely
½ tsp. salt (more to taste)
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
4 – 6 heaping tablespoons finely ground peanuts (substitute more peanut butter if you don't have ground peanuts)
1 – 2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 6-oz. can coconut milk

Place the olive oil, green onions, chilies, and garlic in a pan and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add the strips of chicken and mix well, and reduce heat to medium, cooking until all pieces have been browned. Add the cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, and salt to taste and stir. Next, add the finely ground peanuts and peanut butter (if you don't have the ground peanut powder, just use all peanut butter) and stir well. Put the finely chopped spinach in the pot and stir to mix. Cook over low-medium heat until all of the spinach has been wilted. Then, add the coconut milk and stir to mix well. If you like a lot of sauce, you can either add a larger can of coconut milk (the 15-oz. size) or you can add a second can of water to the mixture to let it simmer in. Let simmer until the chicken is all the way cooked, adding a little hot water as necessary to maintain the sauce. When the sauce is the desired thickness, remove from heat and serve immediately over rice or with flatbread (gluten-free, of course).


kdance said...

Thanks so much for this one! Tried it last night and it was to die for! The only thing I changed was using a small can of green chilies because I didn't have fresh ones. It was wonderful!

Claire Berman said...

Karin, thanks so much for your comment! I love peanut butter in pretty much any form, and I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe as much as I did. And I'm glad to know that your chili substitution worked well!


kdance said...

Making it again tonight :) Can't wait!

Claire Berman said...

Hi Karin!
I think I need to make this one again, too. So delicious! Hope it turned out well tonight :)