Those of you who have been with me since the beginning know I am from Liberia (right off the west coast of Africa). I’ve been asked many times to share more of my family recipes and more of our traditional dishes. Well, pepper chicken is a favorite for many Liberians, and it comes together in no time.
Keeping with our theme this month, I want to keep this recipe Whole30 and Paleo friendly. So, I will be substituting a few ingredients usually used to make Liberian pepper chicken.
First, you can use whatever part of the chicken you like for this recipe. Most of us will use drumsticks or wings because they are easier to work with. And, you can easily eat them with your hands (because these are truly finger licking good).
Now, most Liberians use bouillon cubes/powder to season many of our dishes (including pepper chicken). Of course, we all know most bouillon cubes on the market contain a lot of ingredients that are not Whole30 or Paleo friendly. So, for this recipe, we are going to stick with salt and pepper, warm spice, lots of garlic and coconut aminos to add flavor to our pepper chicken.
Liberian Inspired Pepper Chicken:
WHOLE30 | PALEO
To really amp up the flavor in the pepper chicken, we traditionally add a little peanut butter to the pepper sauce. Stay with me… usually when I say that some people make the “huh” face. But trust me, it is incredible. But of course, peanut butter is not Whole30 compliant. So we are using almond butter in this recipe. Of course you can use sunflower butter or cashew butter if that’s all you have on hand or if you have allergies.
Liberian pepper chicken is usually served with rice, plantains or yams. During a round of Whole30, I enjoy serving it with cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles or yams.Print
Chicken drumsticks seasoned with warm spices and simmered in a rich and spicy pepper sauce.
- 1.5 lbs. chicken drumsticks (about 6 drumsticks)
- 1 tsp. Smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 2 tbsp. Grass-fed ghee
- 1 large onion – cut into cubes
- 1 red bell pepper – cut into cubes
- 1/2 green bell pepper – cut into cubes
- 1 habanero pepper – (this pepper is very hot and may not be for everyone. If you don’t like spicy food, or are feeding kids, you can omit this all together. You can try using a half of it or using crushed red pepper flakes instead)
- 4 garlic cloves – peeled
- 2 tbsp. Tomato paste
- 2 tbsp. Coconut aminos
- 1 tbsp. Unsweetened Almond butter (or peanut butter if you’re not on a Whole30)
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic seasoning (I like balanced bites SUPER GARLIC seasoning)
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup compliant or homemade chicken bone broth
- 2 tbsp. Avocado oil
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley leaves
- To begin, select “SAUTÉ” on the instant pot and wait until the pot reads “HOT”. Pat the chicken drumsticks dry and season them with the paprika, turmeric and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Add the ghee to the hot instant pot and sear the chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side to brown the chicken. While the chicken sears, add the onion, peppers (bell and habanero) and garlic to a food processor and pulse until the vegetables are finely minced almost puréed. Remove the chicken from the pot and set them aside.
- Now, add the puréed vegetables along with the tomato paste, coconut aminos, almond butter, and garlic seasoning to the instant pot and sauté (stirring frequently) until the puréed vegetables are just about cooked through (about 7-10 minutes) and the liquid is dried up. Season the mixture with a couple pinches of salt to taste. Then stir in the bone broth and 2 tablespoons of avocado oil to deglaze the pan.
- Return the chicken to the instant pot, cover and select “MANUAL”. Adjust the time to 5 minutes. When the alarm on the instant pot goes off, open the steam valve and release the steam from the pot. Stir the sauce, cover the pot, select “MANUAL” again and adjust the time to 7 minutes. When the alarm goes off, open the steam valve and allow all the steam to escape. Now, if the sauce is still a bit watery, select “SAUTÉ” on the instant pot and let the it simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce.
- Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and garnish with fresh parsley leaves.
- Serve with cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, yams…etc
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, follow these instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat with the ghee. Season the chicken and sear them for 3-5 minutes on each side. While the chicken cooks, add the peppers (bell and habanero), onion and garlic to a food processor and purée.
Remove the chicken from the pan and add the puréed vegetables along with the tomato paste, coconut aminos, almond butter, and garlic seasoning. Sauté the mixture over medium-high heat until the puréed vegetables are just about cooked through (about 10-12 minutes) and all the liquid is dried up. Season the mixture with a couple pinches of salt to taste. Then stir in the bone broth and avocado oil.
Return the chicken to the pan, and stir to combine the chicken with the sauce. Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature of the chicken should read 165˚F-170˚F). Stir the mixture every 5 minutes so the sauce doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles or yams.