Recipe of the Month: Senegalese Stew (Fonio á la Sauce Mafé)

This hearty meat and vegetable stew highlights Senegal's best-known ingredient, peanuts.

Bineta Diallo Dioh is a chef with a mission. Her restaurant, Le Point d’Interrogation in Dakar, Senegal, is lauded for its authentic local dishes. But she’s also aligned with Mangeons Local, a group that seeks to preserve traditional Senegalese dishes using regional ingredients. “Too many of the ingredients we use in Senegal are imported from Europe,” Dioh says. Mafé is one of Senegal’s most famous (and delicious) dishes—it’s a meat and vegetable stew that showcases the country’s best-known ingredient, peanuts.

For the stew:

1 pound fonio (or substitute couscous)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons oil
1 pound beef, ground
2 medium-sized onions, chopped 
cup tomato paste
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
½ cup broth
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 medium-sized eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup peanut butter
Dried red pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

To prepare the fonio:

Wash the fonio and soak in tepid water for 20 minutes. Drain and steam until tender (about 20 minutes) and add butter.

To make the sauce mafé:

Heat the oil in a large pot, and brown beef. Add onion, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Cook until mixture is well incorporated and the onion softens, about 8 minutes. Add the broth and cook for another 15 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, carrot, potato, eggplant, salt, pepper, fish sauce and peanut butter. Cook on low heat for 40–50 minutes, until the meat is tender and the vegetables are cooked through. If necessary, thin sauce with water. Turn off heat and add lemon juice before serving over fonio or couscous. Serves 6.

Wine Recommendation:

The spicy, nutty nature of this dish’s sauce (we like it with plenty of the optional red pepper) goes well with a medium-bodied off-dry white wine, like a recent vintage of Domaine Huët’s Demi-Sec Vouvray. A less-expensive option would be Barton & Guestier’s Vouvray (look for the 2009). If you insist on red wine with beef, try an inexpensive Spanish Garnacha or fruit-forward California Zinfandel.

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