On the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we would like to acknowledge the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas for their courage, strength and tenacity in getting their communities and lives back on the road to recovery. Much work is still needed, but their spirit shines through in their rebuilding efforts and their drive to preserve their society, culture and, most definitely, their food.
Although I hate to admit it, a lot of my experience with New Orleans style food has been limited to the use of Tony Chachere’s seasoning, and if you haven’t tried it, cher, do, but if you’re also looking for some classic Cajun or Creole dishes, check out one of my favorite websites, www.NolaCuisine.com There are recipes for Shrimp Creole and Etouffé, Red Beans and Rice, and other traditional fare, but what got my mind and mouth going was the Chicken Fricassee. Even though it’s a Louisiana staple, I still think of it as the dish immortalized by pregnant Marge Gunderson in Fargo (the movie) who devoured a plateful of it at every roadside buffet. Never did a dish look so warm and satisfying…
Even the word fricassee makes your mouth water, and this recipe from Nola will have you channeling your inner Marge. I am shamelessly copying it here with much deference to the author. The only suggestions I have (no disrespect intended) are to increase the garlic by at least one tablespoon, and to add ½ cup of chopped Christopher Ranch Green Garlic* as the final garnish. Ah C’est Bon!
NOLA CUISINE CHICKEN FRICASSEE RECIPE
5 – 6 lbs. chicken legs and thigh quarters
For browning the chicken:
1 cup flour seasoned
2 tbsp. kosher salt
Few turns of black pepper
Healthy pinch of cayenne
For the Fricassee:
1 cup lard (home rendered), bacon drippings, duck fat or vegetable oil (if you must)
¾ cup flour
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp garlic*, finely chopped
½ cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 bay leaf
1 bundle of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
Kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste
2 tbsp. fresh thyme, taken off of the stem and chopped
1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp. hot sauce
½ cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 recipe Creole Boiled Rice
Heat the lard, or whichever fat you chose to use, over medium high heat until a small sprinkle of flour quickly sizzles when tossed in. While the fat is heating mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne, dredge the leg & thigh quarters in the mixture and shake off any excess, set aside on a plate. When the fat is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides, do not cook all the way through, set aside. Mix together the onions, celery, and bell pepper (holy trinity) in a small bowl.
When the chicken is browned and set aside, pour off 1/2 cup of the fat, leaving about 1/2 cup of it in the pan. Over medium heat gradually whisk in the 3/4 cup of flour until incorporated and slightly thick, stir constantly until a roux the color of peanut butter is achieved, then stir in 3/4 of the holy trinity, mushrooms, and a pinch of Kosher salt, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes more, stirring slowly but constantly.
Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, cook 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock very gradually to avoid lumps. When it is all incorporated bring the mixture to a full boil to bring the flour to it’s full thickening power, then reduce the sauce to medium low. Stir in the remaining trinity, garlic, bay leaf, bundled thyme, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Submerge the chicken in the sauce cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until falling off of the bone tender. Remove the bundled thyme and bay leaf and stir in the chopped thyme. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.
Serve the chicken with Creole Boiled Rice, and a generous portion of the sauce topped with green onions*. If you like, the sauce or gravy for this dish could be finished with heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche. This would also go great with dumplings to replace the rice.
Note: It is important to have the sauce for this dish almost fully seasoned before adding the chicken, because you want the chicken to take on all the flavor of the sauce. Nola suggests slightly under-seasoning with the salt as the sauce will reduce a bit. Serves 4.