Liberian Chicken Gravy
A staple of Liberian cuisine, this chicken tastes complex with its mix of spicy heat and richness, but comes together simply in just one pan. For the chef Thalmus Hare and other Liberians, this dish is part of the Thanksgiving table. (Liberia is one of the only countries outside the United States to celebrate Thanksgiving.) Peppers are staples in Liberian cuisine, and this recipe incorporates two kinds: sweet red bell peppers and more fiery habaneros. They’re a satisfying counterbalance to the intense chicken flavor that’s supercharged by both broth and Maggi seasoning. This shares similarities with Liberian pepper chicken, another popular dish, but is much saucier.
- Serves: 2 persons
- ½teaspoon seasoned salt
- ¼teaspoon black pepper
- ¼teaspoon ground cayenne
- ¼teaspoon onion powder
- ¼teaspoon garlic powder
- 2pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4)
- 1large yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2garlic cloves
- 1chicken-flavored bouillon seasoning cube, such as Maggi
- 2habanero peppers, stems removed
- 1tablespoon olive oil
- ¼cup tomato paste
- 1cup unsalted chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
- 1red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
- Cooked rice, for serving
Step 1In a small bowl, mix together seasoned salt, black pepper, cayenne, onion powder and garlic powder. Place chicken in a medium bowl, rub the spice mixture all over and let sit for 30 minutes.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, purée onion, garlic, seasoning cube and 1 habanero pepper.
Step 3Heat oven to 425 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over high. Once it is shimmering, add the chicken skin side down. Cook, undisturbed, until the skin develops a golden-brown crust, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving behind the remaining fat.
Step 4Turn heat down to medium, and mix tomato paste with chicken fat and oil in the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste becomes fragrant and darkens in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the pureed ingredients, and cook for another 5 minutes, until thickened slightly. Add chicken stock and cook for 2 minutes more, just to incorporate the flavors. Stir in bell peppers and remaining habanero pepper, then nestle the chicken thighs in the pan, skin side up.
Step 5Bake until the sauce has a slushy texture, 30 to 35 minutes. To serve, transfer the chicken to plates and spoon the sauce on top. Serve with rice.