Ashanti Chicken

Posted on: 25 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Ever heard of Ashanti Chicken? Very few people have - but that shouldn't deter you from trying this super African recipe

From Western Africa

Can a recipe become extinct? If so, this one should be on the endangered recipe list. It is described in two historic texts, but (as far as can be determined) a recipe appears in print only in Barbara Baëta's West African Favorites: Cookery Cards (Accra, Ghana; Moxon Paperbacks, 1972), from which this recipe is adapted.

The origin of Ashanti Chicken is unclear. It is interesting to note that Robert Nassau believes that the dish was invented by a Fanti cook, presumably not too long before he first encountered it. But why would a Fanti cook call his creation Ashanti Chicken? (The Fanti (Fante) and Ashanti (Asante) both live in Ghana, once called the Gold Coast.) Was it invented by Africans and named by Europeans? Is it a creation of West African cooks employed by Europeans, or does it predate Europeans' arrival in Africa? Is Ashanti Chicken the ancestor of the Turducken, popularized by (but invented by?) Louisiana's Chef Paul Prudhomme? In any case, there should be lots of "ooohs" and "aaaahs" at the table when you slice all the way through what looks like a normal roasted chicken without hitting any bones to reveal a delicious pairing of stuffing and meat.

What you need

  • one whole chicken, two to three pounds, de-boned (see below)
  • one pound yams (or potatoes, or sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into quarters
  • one pound chicken meat, white or dark (no bones)
  • cooking oil for frying chicken
  • one small onion, chopped
  • one tomato, chopped (or a spoonful of tomato paste or tomato sauce)
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • a few mint leaves, chopped
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

What you do

  • Boil the yams (or potatoes, or sweet potatoes) until tender. When tender, remove from water and mash.
     
  • While yams are cooking, fry the chicken meat (not the whole chicken) in a few tablespoons of oil. When nearly done add the onion and tomato. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is fully cooked.
     
  • Add the chicken-onion-tomato mixture to the mashed yam (or its substitute). Add parsley, mint, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
     
  • Stuff the de-boned chicken with the yam-chicken mixture. Sew the chicken closed with a needle and cooking string. Rub with butter or oil, salt and pepper.
     
  • Steam the stuffed chicken for two hours in a large Dutch oven (place the chicken on something to keep it out of the boiling water), then baste it with oil or butter and bake or grill it until it is golden brown.
    -- Or --
    Bake or grill the stuffed chicken until it is browned, then wrap it in foil to allow it to continue to cook until fully done.

    Either way, be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Make sure to check the temperature of both the whole chicken and the stuffing.
     
  • Serve Ginger Beer or Green Tea with Mint with or after the meal.

 

Reproduced courtesy of Congo Cookbook.  Take a look at the site for more fantastic African recipes and observations on African cuisine.

 

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