Once upon a time, we were in Wisconsin at my parents’ house. In Wisconsin, the days are book-ended by coffee at the beginning and amazing dinner at the end. Recently, my dad has been on a Cajun kick and I’ve tasted two different kinds of Étouffée and a Gumbo. These culinary excursions have reminded me of something: I LOVE CAJUN FOOD. I had forgotten, somehow … though I don’t understand how, since that’s what we served at our wedding, for Pete’s sake.
Anyway, Cajun and I are getting along just great again. We reignited our feelings for one another through this recipe, courtesy of this awesome food blog, via my dad, and now I’m passing it along to you.
If someone served this to me at a restaurant, I would be happy. That’s how good it is. It has a nice low burn to it, but it’s not too spicy–in fact, my husband denies he can even taste the spice.
Hmmm. His taste buds must have been nuked–that’s the only explanation I can think of, because there’s definitely some heat there.
In fact, upon further thought, I believe I can identify the very place where his taste buds were forever damaged: a little restaurant called Burmese Gems (since closed) that we ate at during our undergrad days in Bloomington, Indiana. Their food was so spicy that once, on the walk back to the dorms, I had to lie down on the sidewalk because the pain in my abdomen from the spice was so severe.
The sidewalk, people!
My taste buds made it out okay, but apparently my spouse’s were forever inoculated against spice, and now he can’t taste it unless it’s of the magnitude of the Chicago fire. Or something.
Here’s the recipe, a couple semi-blurry iPhone pics and my firmest endorsement.
Chicken Étouffée à la Dad
2 TBS olive oil
2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 stick butter
2/3 cup flour
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle amber beer
2 bay leaves
1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chiles
3 cups chicken stock
1 TBS maple syrup
2 TBS Cajun seasoning
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
Serve with rice and a bottle of hot sauce
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; brown in batches and remove to a cutting board.
- Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces (it will still be a little raw–that’s fine). Prep your veggies: dice the onion, green pepper, celery, and mince the garlic.
- Melt the butter in the pot; when melted, add the flour and stir frequently for 20-25 minutes (don’t let it burn!) to create a roux. The roux is done when it’s a little darker than peanut butter. If your chicken brownings are coloring the roux from the start, go even darker.
- Add the diced veggies and garlic to the roux. Cook for 10 minutes, until they’re softened.
- Pour in the beer and scrape the pot to get all the browned bits in circulation.
- Add the remaining ingredients (bay leaves, tomatoes, stock, maple syrup, Cajun seasoning, Worcestershire sauce) and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add the chicken pieces back in.
- Simmer for 45 minutes; taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve with rice and hot sauce that everyone can add to taste.
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