January 17, 2018

Louisiana Chicken Stew

I'm currently in New Orleans, for those of you who don't follow my Instagram or Twitter. It's been kind of a vacation from hell, full of delayed flights, "snowstorms," and absolutely nothing being open. Luckily, I've salvaged the trip with plenty of great food, particularly beignets from all over town. One of the reasons I love to travel is so I can bring the flavors back home with me and use the trip as inspiration for future dishes. Well, this dish will let me remember the more positive moments from my visit to New Orleans and make all the craziness worth it. This stew will keep you nice and warm (despite the unusually chilly weather down here) and fill you up with spicy Creole goodness.

I just call this Louisiana stew because the combination of Andouille sausage, modified mirepoix, and generous spice is unmistakeable. It's technically Creole, not Cajun, because of the tomatoes, but it's too good to get into specifics here. You can add more chicken broth to thin it out into a thick and chunky soup, but I like this thick enough to serve over rice or grits. It just seems heartier and more filling, and the recipe already makes plenty.

I start with the sausage first; if you follow my other recipes, you know the fat from the flavorful meats is invaluable. I cook it pretty much all the way through in some chicken broth, which I use later in the stew, and then crisp it in a skillet before slicing. The chicken gets cooked in the sausage fat, and then I use the chicken/sausage fat to cook the mirepoix. This dish is fairly healthy in the grand scheme of things, so I like to use the unhealthy bits to their full potential.

The mirepoix is the last part that gets cooked before adding to the slow cooker. A traditional mirepoix uses onions, celery, and carrots, but in Cajun and Creole cooking, they use onions, celery, and bell peppers. I cook those veggies in the chicken/sausage fat to soak up the last remnants of flavor, then I throw in the garlic, jalapeno, and spices in the last minute or two of cooking. Those get tossed in the slow cooker along with the other veggies, specifically black beans and canned tomatoes, plus the chicken, sausage, and chicken broth. That all simmers together all day so the meat gets tender and the spices and flavors permeate every bite. I prefer the chicken shredded, but you can also dice it towards the end of the cooking process. This makes it more stew-like and easier to eat.

If you're avoiding carbs as the new year continues, this is great all on its own. However, in the spirit of southern food, I recommend rice or grits. They soak up some of the liquid and round out the dish; grits in particular add a welcome creaminess to the dish that cuts the heat. Here in New Orleans, you could also expect a bowl of dirty rice or maybe some fried eggplant sticks on the side, so go with your heart and your stomach and serve this with whatever you desire.

2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 lb Andouille Sausage
2 lbs Chicken Breast
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
3 Stalks Celery, Diced
1 Bell Pepper, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Jalapeno, Minced
1 14.5oz Can Black Beans, Drained
1 14.5oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
2 tsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Onion Powder
Rice or Grits

Heat the chicken broth to a simmer over medium-low heat in a medium pot. Add the sausage and cook for 8 minutes. Remove and pat dry, reserving the broth. Heat some oil in a large skillet and brown the sausage until crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove, cool, and slice.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in the drippings until golden, then remove. Cook the onions, celery, and bell peppers for 4 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the  garlic and jalapeño and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spices.

Transfer the onions, peppers, black beans, diced tomatoes, chicken, sausage, and chicken broth to a crockpot. Cook for 6 hours on low. Remove the chicken, shred, and cook for another 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

Serves 6-8
Recipe Adapted from Pinch of Yum

1 comment:

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