I mentioned eons ago that I have a set of cookbooks called Time-Life Foods Of The World. They were published in the late ’60’s and early 70’s and are anything but just recipe books. They are more food culture of various parts of the world with recipes thrown in. These books are some of my most treasured possessions and I reread them whenever I am in the need of some reading comfort. I was reading, for the umpteenth time, the one in the series that talks about the region of the states where Creole and Cajun cooking are the norm. I swear, each time I read that one, I want to get in the car and make my way to New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana, just to eat. 😛
Well, after I finished reading it, I couldn’t get out of my mind one of the dishes mentioned. The author called it Chicken Piquante. It was described as chicken in a spicy tomato based sauce that had plentiful amounts of onion, garlic, etc etc. It wouldn’t leave my head and all I could think of was that I wanted to make something like that.
So I did.
And man, was it a hit! This turned out so darn good! The chicken was tender and moist and the sauce, which I served over brown rice as well as the chicken itself, was spicy, filled with tender/crisp veggies and tomatoes, with a VERY slight sweetness to it. This is one dish that I know I’ll be making again, and again… and again. And other than the time taken chopping the vegetables, this is barely any work at all. Plus, you can use your own favorite chicken parts in this. I used breasts and thighs, but you use what your family enjoys
You know the drill! 🙂
Spicy (Or Not) Cajun Chicken
- 4 to 5 lbs chicken parts (the equivalent of one normal sized chicken. I used a combo of thighs and bone in, skin on breasts)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or some other neutral oil) plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
- 2/3 cup chopped celery
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, diced (omit this if you want the dish less spicy)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (I used the kind with peppers and celery in it)
- 2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
- 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/3 cup ketchup (yes; ketchup. It adds a richness and subtle sweetness)
- 2 tablespoons Apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (you may need more if your Cajun seasoning is salt free. I used McCormicks, which has salt in it)
- Pour the 2 tablespoons oil into a large pan (I used my 7 quart dutch oven just to leave room for splattering grease). Add in the chicken pieces, skin side down, doing it in two batches if they don’t fit comfortably in the pan. Cook the first side of the chicken for about five minutes. Don’t try to pull it up if it doesn’t come up easily. When meat has browned enough, it will flip without leaving half the skin in the pan. Flip each piece and let it cook for about another five minutes, then transfer the meat to a plate.
- Drain the grease in the pan and add in the 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup flour. Over medium heat, stirring frequently if not constantly, cook them together until the mixture is a medium brown color. You’re making a roux here and it will add a delicious flavor to the finished dish as well as help thicken the sauce up a bit.
- Once the roux is a medium brown, add in the various chopped veggies. Stir them around to coat and let them cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Snuggle the chicken pieces down into the vegetable mixture. It’s ok if they are kind of propped up on each other; they will still cook fine once covered in the sauce
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and then pour it all over the chicken pieces. Stir a little to get the sauce down in there, then cover the pot. Let this cook, stirring occasionally just to make sure the chicken doesn’t stick, for about 45 minutes (this is going on thighs and large breasts. If using other parts of the chicken, watch your time accordingly), uncovering for the last 15 minutes or so to give the sauce a chance to cook down a bit. Taste your sauce once during cooking to see if you think it needs anything; more spiciness, more salt, a touch more sugar, etc
- Garnish with green onions and sliced jalapenos if desired and serve with rice or noodles to sop up the amazing sauce.
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