Let’s Cook! Smothered Chicken Thighs – Louisiana Style
March 4, 2014
With it being slap in the middle of Mardi Gras season (it’s actually Fat Tuesday as I write this), I thought it the proper time to share a Cajun-influenced dish I stirred up a bit ago – chicken pieces cooked in and smothered with a rich sauce filled with the “trinity” of peppers, celery and onions – in other words (and perhaps more familiarly) a chicken étouffée. Since there’s beads to get and Hurricanes to drink, let’s not waste any time – Let’s Cook!
Smothered Chicken Thighs – Louisiana Style (Chicken Etouffée)
4 Chicken Thighs (bone in, skin on – you can remove skin if you must)
Salt & Black Pepper for the chicken
2 Tbl Canola Oil (or other veggie oil)
4 Tbl (1/4 Cup) Butter
2 Tbl Flour (all-purpose, or whole wheat AP, etc.)
1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped
1 large Celery Stalk (or 2 smaller ones), finely chopped
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 large Jalapeno Pepper, (you guessed it) finely chopped (seed if you want for less heat, gloves would be nice for you while chopping this fella…)
1 1/2 – 2 Cups Broth (chicken or vegetable, I’m thinking subbing up to 1/2 cup of dry white wine for part of the broth wouldn’t suck if you want to try)
2 – 3 nice size Plum Tomatoes, diced (seed if you want, I didn’t)
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tsp Dried Thyme (if you happen to have fresh thyme in the house, cut the dried back to 1/2 tsp and throw in a few sprigs of fresh too)
1/4 Tsp (or more if you like) Cayenne Pepper
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
Heat the oil in a dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium to med-high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces on both sides and add to the pot.
Brown the chicken well on both sides, maybe 8 – 10 minutes total. Remove the thighs to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium – med-low and add the butter. When it melts stir in the flour and mix well.
Stir constantly, adjusting your heat if needed, so the mixture doesn’t scorch. Keep stirring and cooking until it’s a nice medium-brown color – yes kids, we’re making a roux… this should only take a couple of minutes.
Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and jalapeno to the pot. Cook and stir constantly until the veggies begin to soften – two or three minutes or so.
Add about half the broth and stir well all around the bottom to deglaze the browned goodies from the pot.
Add most of the remaining broth (hold back about 1/2 cup in case you want to thin the sauce down a bit later) along with the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and both peppers. Stir it all up well and bring up to a good simmer.
Add the thighs back into the pot…
and adjust heat as needed to maintain a simmer. Pop on the lid and cook for 45 minutes. Stir every so often and turn the thighs over when you feel like it…
Uncover the pot and continue to cook another 15 minutes or so until thickened to your liking (if too thick, thin with the remaining broth). Check for seasoning and add S & P if needed (if you used any fresh thyme, pluck out the sprigs before serving).
Traditionally you’d serve this with a big pile of rice, but it would be killer with mashed spuds too!
Serve with a simple veggie (like the roasted Brussels sprouts shown here) and if you want more heat, some hot sauce or fresh hot pepper as well (yes, that’s a habanero on my plate…).
This is so good, if I do say so myself! But I can’t really take a lot of credit for it, as I based the recipe on one from the good Dr. BBQ, aka Ray Lampe. Ray’s new “Pork Chop” cookbook has a recipe for Pork Chop Etouffée (which is killer in it’s own right), so I subbed in the thighs for the pork, and made a few other minor adjustments for my tastes, and I think it turned out really well. While on the subject, I’ve made four or five recipes from the “Pork Chop” book (one of which I plan to share with you soon), and all have been right on the money! It’s a book worth picking up for any porcine fan.
Trust me, dear Dedicated Readers, this is damn good! Make it… now! Post your results in the comments! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Back to the kitchen! See you soon!