Red chicken stew

Red chicken stew

This is a dish I call “Otty’s mum’s chicken”. It isn’t really that, though. This is a version I have had to make up in my efforts to re-create it.

I have a good friend, called Otty, and for as long as I can remember, whenever I would go to his house (seemingly any time of day, any day of the week), there was always a pot of red chicken stew in the kitchen, and it’s the most magical food I’ve ever eaten. It got to the point whereby Otty knew I would ask about it, and would often bring it along when we met up. On one occasion, he was on a video shoot (he’s a singer), he brought tubs and tubs of the stuff to feed the whole crew + cast, needless to say, it was well received.

Despite repeatedly asking, Otty never told me the recipe - he offered several times for me to go watch him make it, as it wasn’t as simple as writing it down, but I never managed that, either (you know how it is, life is to busy!). Since then, I have tried googling it, and I think it his mum’s variation of Nigerian Red Stew (I also learnt that apparently the tradition of always having it on the side is quite commonplace too).

Anyway, between googling Nigerian Red Stew and applying things I know from other recipes that produce similar textures, outcomes and gradual tweaking, this is my recipe. It’s not as spicy as Otty’s mum’s was, largely because I have to feed it to young-ish kids who don’t have a great spice tolerance (although the latest batch was pretty spicy and they didn’t even bat an eyelid, so its probably better than I give them credit for!)

The recipe here can be super easily cooked inside on a hob + oven, or can be done just as easily on a BBQ. If I’m cooking this outside, I use my Kamado (e.g. Big Green Egg, Kamafo Joe, Masterbuilt Kamado) as it allows for easy direct heat cooking and then easily settles in at a decent temp to cook, but a pellet BBQ (such as Traeger etc) would handle this easily.

(Footnote: I didn’t manage to get a picture for this latest cook, so the image is an AI generated image, just for fun! To be honest, its not a great image and not that life like - once I cook it next time I will try to get a better photo, I promise!)

  • 4-6 people
  • 10 minutes
  • 40-60 minues


  • 1 kg chicken thighs - skin-on, bone-in
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • curry powder/preferred spice seasonings (optional)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2-3 fresh chillies (choose your type, depending on heat preference)
  • handful of fresh tomatoes (4-6 depending on size)
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • vegetable oil
  • 250ml chicken stock (1 stock cube)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree


  1. Light the BBQ and setup to start out for direct cooking (alternatively, if you are indoors, preheat the fan oven to 180C)
  2. Over the direct heat, preheat the oil in a heavy base pan - we are going to start out by searing the skin on the chicken thighs, and we want a nice brown, crispy skin and a heavy base will help us do this. I will cook the stew in this pan, so don't use cast iron - something like an enamelled cast iron casserole dish is ideal.
  3. Trim the thighs to your liking, I generally find they have too much loose skin on them.
  4. Season chicken thighs with salt and any spices you fancy - the latest time I had some pre-mixed jerk chicken spice so used some of that, but this is optional. I often just use salt and pepper at this step
  5. Add the chicken thighs, skin down, to the hot pan and sear the skin - 7-10 minutes. Once nicely seared flip over to cook the underside for a few minutes. Do this in batches if there isn't room in the pan - as we are searing we want to make sure the thighs have good contact with the pan
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a bowl whilst we prep everything else
  7. Add the chopped onion and leave to gently cook until soft and translucent
  8. Put the chopped red bell pepper, fresh tomatoes, tinned tomatoes and garlic into a food processor and process until smooth
  9. Once the onions are cooked, add the tomato and pepper sauce and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes at a reasonable heat to reduce the liquid. We are aiming for it going from quite liquid to quite a think, rich looking sauce
  10. Add in the tomato puree and cook for another few minutes
  11. Add the herbs, spices and vegetable bouillon powder and mix through
  12. Add the chicken thighs back in and stir in chicken stock - you don't need to use it all, just so the sauce is back at a fairly liquid consistency
  13. Close the lid on the BBQ (if using) and adjust the vents to let the temperature settle in at around 180C. I leave this direct heat (no deflector added) but you can add it if you prefer)
  14. Cover and cook put in the BBQ (or oven) for another 20-30 minutes (it can go longer if you need it to, just add water if the sauce is reducing too much) - the chicken should easily be past the safe 165F internal temperature by then (and it's fine for it to be much higher - thighs are much more resilient to higher temperatures). The sauce should almost be separating as the chicken juices blend into the sauce, give it a stir halfway through
  15. Once it's done it should be a beautiful, rich red colour and a really deep, full flavour. Serve it with rice.

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