Palm Oil Chop

Palm-Oil Chop is a traditional dish from Western Africa that is prepared for big dinners and family celebrations. Part of the fun is letting diners add their choice of garnishes and accompaniments. Like many African recipes, it is very easy to adapt to whatever is on hand.

What you need:

  • Virgin Palm Oil
  • two or three pounds of chicken, cut into serving-sized or bite-sized pieces
  • one pound of stew beef, cut into bite-sized pieces, (optional)
  • one-half teaspoon ground ginger or one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Vegetables
    • tomatoes, chopped
    • onion, finely chopped
    • chile pepper, finely chopped
    • okra, sliced
    • sweet green pepper (or bell pepper), chopped
  • a few spoonfuls of tomato paste
  • one-half teaspoon thyme
  • salt, cayenne pepper or red pepper, black pepper (to taste)

What you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over high heat. Fry the chicken and beef in the palm oil until browned on the outside. Add ginger (or cinnamon) as the meat is frying. (It might be best to fry the meat in two or three batches; meat browns best when the pieces are fried without touching one another.) Set the meat aside after it is browned.
  • Fry vegetables of your choice in the same pot, reduce heat and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. Stir vigorously to partially mash the vegetables.
  • Add tomato paste, thyme, spices. Stir. Add enough water to make a smooth sauce while continuing to stir. Reduce heat. Simmer for an additional five to ten minutes.
  • Add the chicken and meat and simmer for an additional thirty minutes to an hour or more, stirring regularly. Make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Some people prefer to remove some of the red oil as it cooked; if it is not removed it should be stirred into the sauce.
  • Serve with Rice and garnishes. Diners should get a plate of Chop over rice and should add garnishes (below) of their choice right on top.
  • Garnishes:
    • hard-boiled eggs (everyone must have a hard-boiled egg)
    • sliced boiled yam or sweet potato
    • breadcrumbs or croutons
    • sliced fruit: such as banana, mango, orange, papaya, pineapple, etc.
    • shredded lettuce
    • parsley
    • chopped nuts
    • shredded coconut
    • sliced tomato
    • sliced onion: raw or fried
    • chili peppers
    • chutney
    • salt, black pepper, red pepper

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