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Senegalese mafe recipe

Senegalese Mafe, with Elk or Venison

Mafe is a Senegalese peanut stew, in this case a braised elk shank. Use whatever shank you happen to have, or shoulder or neck meat. It's done a lot with chicken, too. Serve with rice or crusty bread. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine West African
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Serves 4 people
Author Hank Shaw

Ingredients

  • 2 large. cross-cut elk shanks, or 4 smaller shanks
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup red palm oil, vegetable oil or clarified butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 quarts stock, ideally venison but beef will do
  • 1 to 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 to 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 or 2 habanero or Scotch bonnet chiles, minced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. Salt the shanks well and set aside for 30 minutes. Heat the palm oil or vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot over medium-high heat. Pat the shanks dry and brown on all sides. Take your time and do in batches if you need to. Set aside the shanks when they're browned. 

  2. Add the chopped onions and brown them, too, stirring occasionally. You want the onions to be well browned, so this might take a solid 15 minutes or so. Toward the end, stir in the garlic. 

  3. Stir in the tomato paste and let this cook for a minute or two, then pour in the stock. Stir in the peanut butter. Add the bay leaves, thyme and chiles. Return the shanks to the pot and simmer gently until they are tender, about 2 to 3 hours. 

  4. Toward the end, add the fish sauce, or, if you really hate the stuff, just salt. Serve the shanks with lots of sauce. 

I love using red palm oil, which is used a lot in West Africa. It's solid at room temperature, and keeps a long time. You can find it in bigger supermarkets now.