Other foods besides crawfish lend themselves to the Creole-Cajun etouffee (“smothered”) cooking method. In fact, chicken etouffee is a classic, although it’s as rarely seen in restaurants as it is talked about. This version comes from Michael DeVidts, a cooking instructor at the New Orleans School of Cooking. When I broadcast my radio show from the school on the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary in 2010, Michael cooked this up and served it to all comers. I found it so good that I insisted he share the recipe, which he did gladly. It turned out to be as simple to make as it is tasty.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic
- 1 tsp. salt-free Creole seasoning (i.e., New Orleans School of Cooking’s “Joe’s Stuff”)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. liquid crab boil
- 1 lb. cooked, boneless, skinless chicken, coarsely chopped (dark meat preferred)
- 2 green onions, tender green parts only, finely snipped
1. Make a roux with the flour and oil over medium heat. Stir it constantly while cooking until it’s the color of chocolate ice cream.
2. When the roux is the right color, remove it from the heat and stir in the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Keep stirring until all the vegetables are soft. Then add the garlic, Creole seasoning, and salt, plus about 1/4 cup of the chicken stock. Stir until blended and set aside to cool.
3. In a medium-large saucepan, bring the remaining chicken stock to a simmer with the bay leaves and crab boil. Let it simmer for two or three minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
4. Spoon the roux into the chicken stock and stir with a whisk until completely blended. Let the mixture cook for a five minutes, then add the chicken meat.
5. Continue to cook, covered, on low heat for another 10-15 minutes. (You could also put the mixture into a slow cooker and let it cook for as long as an hour.)
6. Serve with or without rice. Garnish with the chopped green onions.