Brazilian Chicken Stew

December food is abundant, rich, opulent. And then winter sets in. After all the stuffings and roasts, sweet potatoes and cranberries, January food should be warm and cozy but with a little edge.

Which was exactly the kind of dish I was looking for when we invited friends over for a buffet supper a few weeks ago. I could have made a crowd pleaser from my repertoire, but I wanted to serve something I hadn’t made before. I wanted someone else’s food!

I headed to South America, first googling Argentinian dishes, then Chilean and Venezuelan. I moved on to Brazil and liked what I saw, but my search was too broad. With such a large, diverse group coming for a buffet dinner, I decided to play it safe with chicken.  I typed in “Brazilian chicken stew”. Sure enough several recipes popped up.

I usually find that the first few search engine offerings are not always reliable. Not this time. Top of the list was a Joyce Goldstein recipe for Brazilian Chicken Stew on the Food and Wine website.

This dish offered exactly what I was looking for–all the comfort of a stew, all the speed and broad appeal of chicken. And then were all those bright flavors–jalapenos, lemon, coconut, peanuts, cilantro.

A recipe published in 2001, it needed updating as well as my personal touch. I traded in the jalapenos for poblanos, lemon juice for lime, whole tomatoes, chopped for petite diced, sweet paprika for smoked. It went well.

Everyone noted what a lively party it was. No doubt we were all happy to see one another after the holiday rush, but I believe Brazilian Chicken Stew deserves much of the credit.

Brazilian Chicken Stew
Serves: 6
  • ⅓ cup peeled and thinly sliced ginger (3 ounces)
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into large piece
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) petite-diced tomatoes, drained (juices reserved for another use)
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut, plus extra for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Steamed rice
  1. Mince ginger, garlic, poblano, lime juice, and paprika in a food processor. Starting with 2 tablespoons, add enough water to process mixture to a thick paste.
  2. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Toss chicken with 2 tablespoons of the oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper; toss to coat. Add chicken to hot skillet and cook, turning once, until brown on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in empty skillet; add onions and cook over until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add ginger paste and cook until it begins to darken in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Add half the tomatoes along with coconut milk, peanuts, coconut and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro; cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer sauce to a food processor or blender and puree. Return sauce to skillet and add broth, remaining tomatoes and cilantro and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to thick gravy consistency, 15 to 20 minutes. Add chicken; continue to simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice,  garnishing with additional coconut and cilantro.


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  1. says

    This looks delicious! I once had some Brazilian friends over to teach me how to make feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew). It took 2 days!! But totally worth it.

  2. Loretta says

    I check your blog almost every day, and when I saw your recipe for Brazilian chicken stew, I knew i had to make it for my family. It was a big hit, everyone loved it, added extra cilantro and made coconut rice to go with it. I will definitely make it again. Thank you Pam!

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