Saturday, February 25, 2017

Maafe - West African Peanut Stew

FTC Disclaimer- We are proud to have this post sponsored by Certified Angus Beef.

Our granddaughter's dad is from Senegal and a popular dish there is maafe (also mafĂ©).  There are many variations but in general:
  • maafe features a spicy peanut sauce,
  • maafe can have beef, or chicken,
  • maafe can be a stew or soup, and
  • maafe should pack a good bit of heat.
How to make West African Peanut Stew

The first time I made it, her dad and family were visiting us.  I was proud to have created something from their cuisine.  They said the flavors were right but called it a phrase in Wolof (one of the three languages they speak) and giggled. I had to ask what was funny.  The phrase translated loosely into "white man's maafe"  or "foreigners maafe" because it was so mild in the heat department.  

This weekend our temps dropped from a record high of 77 to a low temp below freezing in just a day so we were craving some hearty comfort food.  Food City had some nice looking Certified Angus Beef stew meat so I decided to cook another batch of maafe - this time with more heat! See the Substitutions/Notes section for ways to control the spicy heat of your maafe.

Senegalese Maafe recipe featuring Certified Angus Beef
Maafe has a rich texture, earthy flavors, and should have a bit of a sting.

You can make this a stew like I did or as more of a soup, simply by using your lid (see notes).  You can also do this inside, instead of on the grill.  Just use an oven safe, heavy bottomed pot with a lid.  Do the sauteing steps on the stove top over medium high heat and then use a 350°f oven for the rest of the way.

Maafe - West African Peanut Stew


  • Tallow or other high temp oil (avocado, canola, grapeseed, etc)
  • 2 pounds Certified Angus Beef stew meat chunks
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and wedged - about 2 cups
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and bias sliced 1/4" thick
  • 2-3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced - about 2 cups
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced - about 2 cups
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped 
  • habanero chiles (see notes for quantity)
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 green onions, bias sliced
  • salt to taste
For the Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper


  1. Preheat your grill to 350°f (medium) and place the cast iron Dutch Oven in the closed grill to preheat for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Make the seasoning mix.  Mix together the salt, paprika, cumin, oregano, and black pepper.  NOTE: If using a mild version, add the cayenne pepper too and you'll skip the chiles.
  3. Sear the beef.  Add tallow or oil to the Dutch Oven and add the meat.  Just don't dump it all at once, that just cools down your pot. Instead spread the pieces around and don't crowd the meat. Do it in two batches if you need to.  Season with a few pinches of the seasoning mix.  This should take 4-5 minutes per batch, just long enough to get color on your beef.  Remove to a resting rack over a plate or tray.
  4. Saute the veggies.  Add more oil if necessary and once it is shimmering (30-45 seconds if your heat is the right temp).  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to turn tender, 3-5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes.  Season with the rest of the seasoning mix and toss to coat evenly.  Cook for 2 more minutes.
  5. Simmer It All.  Return the meat and any drippings to the Dutch Oven. Add the tomatoes and any chile peppers that you are using.  Whisk together the peanut butter and beef stock then add this to the Dutch Oven. Add the bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer.  Switch the grill to indirect heat (see Notes).  Cover the Dutch Oven, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes in the closed grill.  Your cooking temp should be 350°f.  Check on it about every 15 minutes and give it a stir.
  6. Adjust heat and reduce the liquid. Remove the Dutch Oven lid and taste the broth for heat level.  If it is where you want it. fine. If not spicy enough, cut slits in your chile peppers or cut them in half and put them back in.  Continue cooking with the Dutch Oven lid off until the sauce reduces to the thickness of a stew. Find the bay leaf and remove it.
  7. Remove, cover, and let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. 
  8. Garnish with the green onion and serve.  You could also do cilantro and or chopped peanuts.


  • Heat level - For mild, use 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. For "American hot" use 1 whole habanero chile.  For "Senegalese hot", just throw in a bunch of habaneros. We used 2 habaneros and ours was as hot as I could stand it - it packed quite a sting.  Also see the tip with the picture of the chile below for another trick for adjusting the heat level.
  • Soup vs Stew - Maafe can be served as a stew like this or a soup (also called peanut soup).  To make this same recipe as a soup, just reduce the cook time to 30-45 minutes total and keep the pot covered the entire time.
Certified Angus Beef mise en place
As always, mise en place is even more important for cooking at the grill than it is for the kitchen because you have a long walk for any forgotten tools or ingredients.

Certified Angus Beef is the #bestbeef
If you don't have stew meat, you can get a chuck roast and cut it up yourself. See all that marbling? There are three sub categories for marbling within the USDA Choice grade.  Certified Angus Beef only accepts beef in the upper two categories which is why CAB often looks more marbled like this compared to other Choice beef in the meat display case.

Your target temp is 350°f.  If your grill doesn't have a temperature gauge, you can buy a simple oven thermometer for about $5-7. (Amazon affiliate link)

Tip - Don't crowd your pan when trying to brown meats.  I could have fit both pounds of beef in here but then there wouldn't be space between the meat and it would steam more than saute. 

Certified Angus Beef tips in cast iron dutch oven over hot coals.
The beef smells so fragrant as the hot cast iron sears it and releases the aroma of the seasonings.

Certified Angus Beef stew meat on a resting rack with steam rising.
Make sure to have a tray or plate under the rack to collect any drippings so they can go back into the pot.

Dutch Oven on a Grill Dome kamado grill
Don't clean out the pan between steps.  You want to keep the layers of flavor in the Dutch Oven.

Lodge Dutch Oven on a Grill Dome kamado grill cooking a beef stew recipe.
Toss the veggies around and make sure they are evenly coated.

A trick I learned from a cooking class is to use whole chiles in soups/stews (left).  Taste for heat level during the cook.  If getting too spicy, start pulling out the chiles. If not spicy enough, cut the whole chiles open or in half and put them back in (right).

Lodge Dutch Oven on a kamado grill
Grill Trick:  To switch to indirect heat in a kamado grill usually involves taking out the hot grate and putting in a heat deflector or plate setter. I just put a pizza stone on the grate and put my camp style dutch oven on top of it. This creates an indirect set up AND gives the three legs a stable base on which to stand.

Maafe cooked on an open fire pit
The first time I cooked maafe, I used the same cast iron Dutch Oven but did it camp style, with hot coals under the bottom and on top of the lid.

Maafe mafe beef stew recipe in a dutch oven on a kamado grill
Once you take the lid off, the liquid will reduce quickly from soup to stew, maybe another 10-15 minutes.

Maafe mafe beef stew recipe or West African peanut stew
We served our maafe with rice which was a good thing.  It was so spicy it needed the rice to help tame the sting of the habanero.

Here are some other ideas for using Certified Angus Beef stew meat, like this Beef Stew with Barley.