Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chicken Sauce Piquante

It was almost a tradition in my household. Every Sunday, my mother would cook chicken—stewed, fried, baked, broiled, fricasseed, in creole sauce, in gumbo, in jambalaya, with gravy. Who knew that chicken could be so versatile?

Sauce Piquante was my favorite. My mother would add a couple of chopped cayenne peppers if she had them, and if not, she would sprinkle a generous helping of ground cayenne. Every Cajun cook worth her salt had a Sauce Piquante recipe.  This recipe is as close as I can remember from watching my mother. We usually had field peas, black eye beans, or lima beans, sliced cucumber and sliced tomato with the meal. Served over hot rice, ça c'est bon.

1 chicken, cut up and seasoned with Cajun seasoning or your own concoction.
3 tbs oil
2 tbs flour
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
½ bell pepper, chopped
1-2 hot peppers, chopped (Fresh Cayenne, if you have it, but Serrano, habanera, or jalapeño work too)
Fresh mushrooms, chopped (about a cup or so—my mother never used mushrooms—that's my addition)
½ to ¾ can tomato paste (small can)
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
½ - ¾ cup chicken broth (you can make your own with the neck, gizzard, liver, or any of the other parts of the chicken you don't like)

In a large Dutch oven brown the chicken in the oil—usually about 8 or 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and add the flour to the leavings and make a roux, stirring until the roux is a dark brown. (If you've never made roux, it's simple. Stir a lot.) Lower the heat a little and add the garlic, onion, celery, bell pepper, and hot pepper. Stir until onion is translucent. Add mushrooms. Cook for a while longer, until mushrooms start to cook. Add the tomato paste, the tomato sauce, and the broth to the roux. Add the chicken and simmer until tender. Add more broth, if needed, to give the sauce the right consistency, thick and creamy. If you're not a big fan of chicken, the recipe works well with shrimp, crawfish, and alligator too.

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