Growing up, my family eagerly enjoyed watching the early cooking shows as many folks later did when the Food Network first cranked up and ran them as "originally aired". Back then in my youth, these shows aired on PBS stations and the focus was to make cooking enjoyable, showing a fun, sometimes humorous time spent in the kitchen all while making each show entertaining to watch, don't you see.
Locally here in Mobile, there was Connie Bea Hope and Estelle Payton on WKRG (CBS) Woman's World while over in Pensacola, Earl Peyroux had a show on the PBS station WSRE, and most popular was Justin Wilson on WYES in New Orleans. We enjoyed nationally syndicated shows as well with the likes of Julia Child, Graham Kerr and James Beard. A few of these cooking celebrities rarely cooked sober which made the shows even more entertaining. Wine flowed freely on the Galloping Gourmet and to paraphrase Justin "If you like cooking with wine, you ought to try adding it to the pot!" Today's shows are either so serious or way too silly.
The recipe today is adapted from Justin Wilson's TV cooking series Louisianna Cookin' and like most of his recipes, uses wine for depth as well as a neutralizer for the acidic tomatoes and tones down the bitterness some say onions and garlic leave on the palate. It also takes the place of sugar which we all know makes tomato based dishes milder, and better. Momma enjoyed cooking with wine, probably not as much as Justin or Graham, but she always kept several bottles handy in the kitchen and away from the liquor cabinet. In other words, she had hers to cook with and kept other bottles for serving with meals or for guests. Now Justin did not segregate wines. He would say, “People always wanna know, Joos-tain, w’at kinna wine go wit w’at? Well, Ah say, da kinna wine you like!”
Here is a clip of his Cajun humor, dubbed 'More Duck Hunting'.
And here is his recipe dabbled with a little influence from Momma's Chicken Spaghetti dish. Enjoy!
Chicken a la Creole Spaghettiabout 8 servings
1 whole cut-up chicken, or 4 bone-in breast
1 celery stalk, cut in half
1/2 bell pepper
salt to taste
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
2 large bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup diced green onion
1/2 teaspoon crushed basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 tablespoon finely mined garlic
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped with juice (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire
Louisiana hot sauce to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
Cook the chicken by simmering it in salted water along with the first three vegetables and bay leaf. When cooked, drain reserving 2 cups stock for later in recipe. Discard vegetables and bay leaf. Allow chicken to cool. Debone and tear or cut into bite size pieces.
In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet over moderate heat, add olive oil swirling to coat the bottom of pan. Add diced onions, bell pepper, celery and parsley and saute until onions are tender and clear. Stir in green onion, basil and oregano and saute for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and wine and cook for 2 minutes after simmer. Stir in the reserved 2 cups stock, tomatoes and juice, Worcestershire and enough hot sauce to make it piquant. Return to simmer.
Fold in heavy cream and chicken. Cover and allow mixture to return to simmer. Turn heat to low and remove lid.
Cook at barely simmer (turn up heat if needed) for about 15 minutes to meld the flavors together and allow the chicken to tenderize in the flavorful sauce.
Meanwhile, cook spaghetti al dente or "firm to the bite". Serve Chicken a la Creole over the spaghetti and with toasted bread.
Notes: In this recipe, ingredients are grouped together and added in layers and each group's increment is allowed to come back to a simmer. This allows the flavors to combine together, or "marry" and deepens the overall taste making it all come together at the end, like one big happy family of flavor.