Celiac Disease sucks. If you’ve never heard of it, imagine a really intense version of a gluten allergy. It’s nearly impossible to go out to eat, and ethnic restaurants are out of the question.
As a result, we’ve developed a tradition in my house. On Sunday nights, the doors are open to friends and I try out new recipes, often some kind of ethnic cuisine. From the first time I heard about this peanut stew, a fixture in Ghana, I knew I had to try my hand at it.
After a little research and a few test runs, I settled on this version of the dish, adapted from a recipe at seriouseats.com. I replaced the traditional chicken with desert cottontail, tweaked the process a bit, and added charred jalapeno and chili oil. The addition of this regional take on plantains, adds a great crunch and sweetness to accompany the earthiness of the stew.
I love this recipe because the ingredients are easy to find and it’s incredibly versatile. Traditional recipes include everything from vegetarian options to goat and tripe. With a few tweaks, you can make it with just about any game meat. I can’t wait to try it again with venison, or maybe some smoked wild turkey.
West African Rabbit and Peanut Stew with Spicy Fried Plantains
• 2 pounds cottontail rabbit, cut into serving size pieces
• 2 medium yellow onions, halved and roots trimmed off, divided
• 2 cups game or chicken stock, divided
• 5 medium cloves garlic, divided
• 1 ounce fresh ginger (about a 1-inch knob) peeled, divided
• 2 teaspoons tomato paste
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 cup creamy peanut butter
• 1 can (28oz) peeled plum tomatoes
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Thai or Chinese Chili Oil
Kelewele (Fried Plantains)
• 4-6 plantains peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
• 1-2 tsp Cayenne pepper
• ½ tsp peeled grated fresh gingerroot
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tbs water
• High smoke point oil (preferably peanut oil) to fry.
1. Generously salt the rabbit pieces and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. In a blender, purée 2 onion halves, 1/2 cup chicken stock, 3 garlic cloves, 1/2 ounce ginger, and the tomato paste.
3. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Pat dry the rabbit pieces and brown in pot. Do this in batches and set browned pieces aside.
4. While the rabbit browns, roast jalapeno pepper either directly over a gas burner or underneath your oven’s broiler. Remove the pepper from the heat when charred and blistered all over. Set Aside.
5. After browning the rabbit is complete, drain any remaining oil from the Dutch oven. Return the rabbit to the Dutch oven along with the puree, the remaining onion halves, remaining ½ ounce ginger, remaining 2 garlic cloves, jalapeno and bay leaves. Toss to coat.
6. Bring Dutch oven to a simmer over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking until the onion halves are soft and translucent, about 20 minutes.
7. Remove the chunks of onion, ginger, garlic cloves, and jalapeno and transfer to the blender. Add peanut butter, canned tomatoes and their juices, and remaining 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, and purée until smooth. Pass the blended mix through a fine-mesh strainer into the Dutch oven, stirring to incorporate.
8. Raise heat to medium and bring to a simmer, then lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until rabbit is tender, oils have surfaced, and mixture has thickened and reduced by about one-third, 90 minutes to 2 hours.
9. Remove and discard bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot with Kelewele, white rice and chili oil.
1. Grate and mix ginger root, pepper, and salt in water.
2. Toss plantain and spice mixture together in a bowl.
3. Using a deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil (it needs to be deep enough to allow plantains to float) to 350 degrees.
4. Fry plantains in batches to avoid dropping the oil temperature, turning once, until golden brown on both sides.
5. Drain plantains on paper towels and keep in warmed oven until all the plantains are fried.
Jeff Quigley lives and hunts in Carlsbad, California.