Happy Mardi Gras! I meant to get this recipe out to you guys a little bit before Mardi Gras, but then it just never happened. But honestly, while it is true this is a New Orleans dish, there is no reason to confine your enjoyment of this recipe to just one day a year. It was absolutely fantastic, everyone in my house loved it, I would make it again for sure and not just for Mardi Gras.
I found the recipe in a book I had been sent to review, Todd-Michael St. Pierre’s Taste of Treme: Creole, Cajun, and Soul Food from New Orleans’ Famous Neighborhood of Jazz. It took me a while to get to it–as it happened I was sent a lot of cookbooks at the same time, and this one got put on the back-burner. But with Mardi Gras coming, I pulled it out. I have been to New Orleans several times, but never have I been to Tremé, the country’s oldest African American neighborhood and, according to the book, an important center for jazz and food. The book itself is hardback but small, with many color pictures. The recipes are written in a colorful language, calling, for example, for ingredients such as “Holy Trinity Wit da Pope” (the mix of aromatics that begin so many dishes in New Orleans: celery, onions and green bell pepper). The book is not what I would call a great beginner cookbook, the colorful language can make some of the recipes read confusingly and the index is especially frustrating, as it only lists dishes by their colorful names, not ingredients. However, having said that, I enjoyed reading this cookbook, and I loved this dish and am really excited to make others from the book. I guess I would say that the recipes require a little work, but not excessively so and they definitely reward.
I adapted the recipe both to our tastes and to what I had available. You can read more about how I review cookbooks at my review of Easy Indian Cooking. My main changes to the recipe were to utilize the bacon grease I had leftover from our brunch of Pain Perdu with bacon and because I did not have any bell pepper (sacrilege, I realize) I used all celery and onion. I also increased the mushrooms because we are mushroom obsessed. I made my Creole/Cajun spice blend using some Walker & Sons Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, which I then doctored with some herbs and spices. I have listed the recipe below. But feel free to substitute with whatever Creole or Cajun seasoning you have around.
- For Creole/Cajun spice blend:
- 1½ t Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning
- ½ t garlic powder
- 1 t dried thyme
- 1½ t smoked paprika
- For the fricassee:
- 5 T bacon grease, divided (you can sub with oil, it will lose a little depth of flavor)
- 4 T AP flour
- 2 chicken breasts (I used boneless but you can use whichever)
- 4 chicken thighs
- 2 small-medium onions, chopped
- 3-4 stalks of celery, sliced
- 1 lb sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 t dried oregano
- 2 t fresh minced rosemary (or 1 t dried)
- 1 cup dry white wine, plus a little more for deglazing
- Whisk together the spice blend ingredients. Then whisk the spice blend into the flour. Dredge each piece of chicken through the spiced flour mixture.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease in a large, heavy skillet (I used cast iron). Brown the chicken, two pieces at a time. Set aside in a large bowl.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and then add the onions and celery with a pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the remaining spiced flour mixture to the pan. Mix it into the onions and celery and stir. Add the oregano and rosemary. Stir. If the mixture starts to stick to the pan or scorch, deglaze with a tablespoon or two of the wine. Cook for another 5 minutes this way.
- Add the mushrooms in batches, stirring them in as you add them. Continue to deglaze as needed with a tablespoon or two of wine.
- When all the mushrooms are in and mixed in thoroughly and starting to cook, add the full cup of wine and scrape the bottom to deglaze. Then add the chicken, and nestle it into the pan such that every piece is at least partially submerged in the liquid.
- Reduce the heat to maintain a brisk simmer. Simmer until reduced by half and the chicken is cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.
- We served over long grain rice with peas but serving with French bread would work as well.
A review copy of Taste of Tremé was provided to me for free; all opinions are my own. Affiliate links were used in this post, but only to link to items that I would be discussing and linking to anyway.
For the collage fans…