There are probably a dozen basic recipes for Chicken Creole in Louisiana (hell, in New Orleans) alone. And each probably has a thousand variations to it. Any cook who calls her kitchen “Creole” has several good chicken recipes she can pass along. I am no exception.
I will admit to having the misfortune of coming to the cuisine of my paternal ancestors late. I didn’t grow up helping Maman cook red beans and rice on Monday and gumbo for Mardi Gras. I’m a gamer, though, and I can figure out where to go for the good stuff: people who did. That’s why I love Leon E. Soniat, Jr.’s Creole recipes from his outstanding books La Bouche Creole and La Bouche Creole II.
So today, I offer you my take on Soniat’s Creole Chicken from his second book. I’ve left out a thing or two and added a spice here and there and I hope that, if you try this recipe, you will do the same. This kind of “signature” cuisine is another reason why I’m a cook and not a baker.
6 Creole tomatoes (note: I live in Alaska so Creole tomatoes proper aren’t going to turn up on my table, much as I might wish they would. In the summer, I use ripe tomatoes locally grown; winter means a 28 oz. jar/can of whole tomatoes.)
2 tbsps butter
2 tbsps olive oil
1 4 lb. chicken cut up or 6 chicken breasts or 8 chicken thighs
1 white onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning to taste – or – cayenne pepper to taste
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp basil
Lemon, thinly sliced
Green onions, chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped
Soniat recommends peeling and deseeding the tomatoes before chopping them. I skip this step and just chop them up.
Heat butter and oil together in a heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium heat. Salt and pepper your chicken and brown the pieces. Set them aside and, if need be, add a bit more oil to your pot. Now add the white onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and sauté about five minutes. Once the veggies are soft add the flour, a little pepper and either the Tony Chachere’s or the cayenne and cook for another five minutes, stirring frequently.
Next add your tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock and the thyme, basil and bay. Stir well and add the chicken. Bring to a boil and then simmer partially covered for an hour or so. You can let this go on the stove all day at a very low heat, which makes it a perfect Sunday-having-company one pot dish. Serve over white rice with crusty bread and garnish with lemon, green onions and parsley. Bon appétit ~
Header: Peasant Woman Cooking by Van Gogh circa 1885