I'm here to tell ya...
Now you would think coming back from NOLA we would have our full of Creole or Cajun fare, but don't forget one moment where ya'll at. If you paid attention to the last rambling, you would know we did not come close to Cajun food at all... it just didn't happen. So one of the first things I set my sight on was a big ol' pot of simmering étouffée, and not just any mind ya, rural country fixins with a little city finery flung in if ya know what I mean.
Étouffée normally evokes crawfish or shrimp to most and rightly so, as it is the most popular when making this dish. But in the backwoods, out in the high country where the creek beds run slim to none on mud-bugs, folks turn to other means to get their bellies full of the same flavorful technique the bayou folks use when making the dish with shellfish. Passed along from generations, this technique is simple; using the trinity of Louisianian cookery along with a few spices. My version takes on more of a Creole flair using a darker roux than the rich, lighter Acadiana Cajun one. Some say the Creoles brought a more classical approach learned from the French when preparing dishes such as this one. I don't know about that, I just know that I like a velvety smooth base with a melded finish in bringing together chicken and sausage that is lightly browned, lightly sautéed vegetables all coming together in a rich chicken stock gravy, one bound together from a dark roux that is left over from the pan of brown meats. I'm salivating already.
Now let me say this, do not be intimidated by the length of ingredients or procedure - this is a simple recipe. All we are doing is building layers of flavor on top of one another. Total prep and cook time, about 2 hours.
My interpretation is loosely based on an étouffée from the kitchen of Paul Prudhomme. While his cookery is Cajun at its finest, I think it is a good base for me as I bring together my own elements and combine a little Creole as I know it, or think anyway. All I know it that this is some kind of good eating folks and I hope you try it. Enjoy!
Chicken and Sausage Étouffée
makes a big ol' pot, serves 8-10 folks
If you're skilled with a boning knife, purchase bone-in chicken and de-bone the meat yourself, it will save a lot of money. Use the bones to make super rich stock, other wise, use the recipe as is with skinless, boneless meats. If you notice, I season during each step so as no layer is left unfinished.
|floured chicken, seasoning mixtures|
1 small onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 stalk celery, halved
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 large Creole tomatoes or Roma, flesh only with seeds removed, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced celery
2/3 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
|browning chicken pieces|
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless thighs
2 pounds skinless, boneless breasts
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/3 cups all- purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound Andouille, thinly sliced into disks
1 pound smoked sausage, chopped into bite size pieces
Vegetable oil for frying
2 tablespoons butter to finish vegetables
additional stock or water as needed
1/2 cup dry sherry for deglazing
Begin by developing a good stock. Place all of the stock ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook covered for a good hour.
Meanwhile prep for the next steps.
Combine the dry seasonings together in a small bowl and set aside to use later after making the roux. In a medium bowl, combine the seasoning vegetables and put aside.
Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Mix the spices together and sprinkle on the chicken, toss to coat.
Combine the flour mixture together in a deep bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour coating well (I use tongs) and set aside on a pan in a single layer. Reserve flour to make the roux.
In a large heavy skillet, brown the sausages enough to render the oil. Remove sausage to paper lined bowl to drain. Wipe out any oil with paper towels.
Add enough oil to the skillet to a depth of about quarter-to-half inch. Heat oil to 360 degrees F. (I use the end of a wooden spoon, when bubbles form, it is ready) Add chicken but do not overcrowd the pan and cook until bottom is lightly brown, just a few minutes. Flip over to cook other side. Remove to paper lined plates to drain grease. Cook remaining chicken pieces being careful not to burn the sucs or brown bits and flour in the bottom of the pan.
After removing chicken, drain all but 1/4 cup oil. Add the leftover flour from coating the chicken and stir into the oil to begin making the roux. This should be thin enough to move freely around yet thick enough as to not be overly runny, Momma said, kinda of like pancake batter. Stir in more flour or oil as needed. Scrape the roux from the bottom of the skillet using a flat wooden spatula for best results. Move it around continuously lifting if up and cook until it becomes a brownish red. Be careful not to burn the roux, turn down the heat if it begins smoking. Excessive smoke normally means burnt roux. When the roux is dark, remove from heat and add half of the seasoning vegetables to help cool it down a bit and to meld everything together. Stir in the dry seasonings.
Return this to the heat and slowly add the hot chicken stock in a steady stream stirring all while with the spatula. Cook until nice and smooth. Reduce heat to low.
In a small skillet, add the butter and heat over medium heat. Saute the remaining vegetables until onions are clear. Add vegetables to the roux. Add the sherry to the skillet and bring to a simmer, boil for 2 minutes and add to the roux stirring to incorporate all together.
Stir in the chicken and the sausages. Add additional stock or water if needed to make a nice medium thick base for the étouffée. Cover and reduce heat to very low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is very tender.
Serve over white rice with crusty French bread. Some folks sprinkle on a little chopped green onions or parsley to dress it up if company's staying for supper.