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Emeril's Chicken Etouffee

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Emeril's Chicken Etouffee

One of my favorite recipes -- and when made with a little less cayenne and hot sauce, it's becoming a favorite of the kids, too!

Emeril's Chicken Etouffee. Etouffee is basically a variant of a stew with lots of "aromatics" and flavorful herbs and spices. Popular in Cajun cooking, the definition I found gives it Creole roots. The two are NOT the same. No matter who takes credit for it, it's incredibly delicious.

Admittedly, this is one of the more labor intensive recipes in my family's repertoire, but it's SO GOOD, it's worth the work. I make this up 3-4 times per year for the family, and the recipe linked above makes enough for my family of 4, plus another dinner for just Dave and me, if I made Spaghetti-o's or Macaroni and Cheese for the boys.

Things go most smoothly when I cut up the chicken and chop the aromatic veggies well ahead of time. I'll spare you pics of cutting up a whole chicken, but that was the first thing I did...disassemble a whole chicken.

Side note: from a financial standpoint, the cost of a whole "fryer" chicken is about 1/2 of the cost of a "whole chicken cut up". If you're willing to learn how to dissect it on your own, in about 10 minutes, you not only save a few dollars, but you also can keep the back, neck, organs and giblets for other uses.

So after the chicken, I cut up the peppers (2 large) and one really-large-honkin'-onion:

From 2008 03 20 Em...

From 2008 03 20 Em...

From 2008 03 20 Em...

From 2008 03 20 Em...

You might notice that the recipe calls for celery, too...I usually include a little, but I forgot to pick some up at the store this morning, so I omitted it. No biggie, means more onions!

Next, I oil up the pot, season the chicken with lots of Tony Chachere's seasoning instead of the salt and cayenne (hey, I'm serving young children here!) and sear all sides. So here's a gory close-up of the seasoned chicken. The inside is still raw, so don't drool too much...yet.

From 2008 03 20 Em...

With the oil and remnants of the seared chicken and spices in the bottom of the pot, throw in an entire stick of butter. Real butter. Margarine won't cut it here.

(As our friend the Pioneer Woman would say, "Hey, I never said it would be healthy!")

From 2008 03 20 Em...

Once the butter melts, turn the heat down to straight medium and sprinkle in the 3/4 c. of flour. Put on some comfy shoes and start to'll be doing this for a while. This is the foundation for a good-old-Cajun "roux". The recipe calls for "chocolate" colored roux...when you first start, your roux is basically the color of the butter you just melted. It takes 10-15 minutes for it to darken down to "chocolate" colored...but from there it can quickly turn to "Burnt", so I tend to stop at a peanut-butter color.

Here are before and after shots of the roux process...this took about 15 minutes.

From 2008 03 20 Em...

From 2008 03 20 Em...
See the difference?

Then you throw in the onions, celery and bell this quickly. And quickly get as much of the roux around the veggies as you can...there's a lot of heat in the roux that can help the veggies cook down. And the smell that will fill your kitchen will be DIVINE!

Afterwards, add the bay leaves and 2 cloves of minced garlic and continue to cook down.

From 2008 03 20 Em...
Between searing the chicken, making up a roux and stirring in all those veggies, you might have noticed the glop accumulating at the bottom of the pot. You've probably heard Emeril, Rachel, Bobby or Alton say "That stuff is FULL OF FLAVOR! We need to RELEASE THAT FLAVOR!"

So here's where the beer comes in -- the alcohol in the beer will dissolve the stuff at the bottom of the pan and will be able to blend right in with the roux/veggie mix. Get a wooden spoon/spatula'll want to work quickly before all the alcohol cooks off!

From 2008 03 20 Em...

Get ready? Get set? GO! Pour in the 12 oz. bottle of beer and use the wooden spoon to scrub scrub scrub the bottom of the pan! If I weren't using one hand to hold the camera in this picture, I'd be simultaneously pouring and scrubbing the pot with my wooden spoon.
From 2008 03 20 Em...

And again, the kitchen will be smelling like you're running your very own Cajun restaurant! Brennan's, the Apex, NC branch!

Now you add the remaining liquids, which include the Worstershire and hot sauces.

From 2008 03 20 Em...

Yes, that's Texas Pete hot sauce there, and NOT Louisiana's own McIlhenny's Tabasco Sauce...but Texas Pete (despite the name) is a North Carolina tradition, and I have to thank an AF friend and Hickory, NC native, Rick Sapp, for introducing me to it in 1996. Besides, Texas Pete is a bit more mild than Tabasco and this is a family show here. I personally like Tabasco a little bit better, but Texas Pete passes muster here...especially for Buffalo Wings.

Okay, enough about the hot sauce.

Finally! Time to add the chicken back into the pot...
From 2008 03 20 Em...

Let it all come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 1:15 hours. Pull the chicken off the bones -- it should come off easily by this point, return the meat to the pot, and simmer for another hour or so. The chicken pieces will start to take on a stringiness that means "I'm ready to eat now!".

Ladle the hot etouffee over a bed of rice (or other starch of your choice, although I can't see it served any other way). Sprinkle on chopped fresh parsley...I didn't have any on hand today, so that was omitted along with the celery.

From 2008 03 20 Em...

(You're looking at my second helping here...I forgot to photograph the first serving, I guess I was that famished after smelling the etouffee all afternoon!)

This recipe is a hit with visitors, and if you're serving more than 6 adults, you could double the recipe quite'll have to sear the chicken in shifts, and use a bigger pot.

P.S.: Have the Tums or Pepto Bismol ready if you try to have 2 servings like I did. Oops.



At Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 10:02:00 PM CDT , Blogger Maryann Goldman said...

It might be 11 at night, but I'm ready for a plate. Serve it on up!

At Friday, March 21, 2008 at 3:28:00 PM CDT , Blogger Paul said... I'm hungry.


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