Sunday, September 06, 2009

Chicken in Piquante Sauce

I bought this new enameled cast iron pot while we were back in Texas. I've been wanting a dutch oven and the more I researched them the more I knew that the best one would be one of these heavy enameled cast iron pots because they retain heat and encourage gentle, even cooking at low heat ensuring that the best flavor is obtained from the ingredients. I had looked before but the cost of the famous french brand, you know the one that Julia Childs used, was TOO expensive. I don't care if they do give a lifetime guarantee. That lifetime guarantee just isn't that important at my age. So I looked at Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray's cookware but the brand that won was Lodge. And it is 1/3 the price of that French one.

Here is the first meal I cooked in the pot and it more than lived up to my expectations. I tried my recipe for Chicken in Piquante Sauce. Well I kind of changed it up a bit because I had about 1/2 pound of a hot Italian sausage that had thawed out on the trip South and I needed to use it. So I browned it after cooking the chicken and put it in the pot as well. It made the dish a little confused. Italian? Creole? I wouldn't add the sausage again. I considered if a 1/2 pound of andouille sausage sliced thin might work. Andouille is a spicy, heavily smoked French sausage that is a part of cajun/creole cooking. I decided that I probably wouldn't add it either, if I could get it in SMA, because it might add a more smoked flavor than I'd like. But if you try it let me know.

The original recipe came from my old copy of Don's Secrets. I've adjusted it over the years. The original called for 1 cup of oil. That much oil isn't necessary at all but you do need some to brown the chicken and add a velvety taste to the sauce. The original called for a 4-5 pound chicken cut into pieces. I've settled on leg and thigh pieces instead. Oh, and you will need a heavy dutch oven to do the recipe justice.

Chicken in Piquante Sauce
This will serve 6

2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper

Chop all of them about in about 1/4 inch pieces...maybe a little larger but don't leave in chunks
Set aside.

6 leg and 6 thigh pieces of chicken. (I have left the skin on and I've taken it off. Either way is fine.)
1/3 cup of oil (if more is necessary, add by tablespoon so that you don't have to end up pouring off the excess oil)

Generously season chicken pieces with salt, pepper and cayenne. Brown the pieces in the hot oil until golden. Depending on the size of your pot you may need to do two loads so that the chicken isn't stacked. You want it crisping up and not steaming. This will take about 10 minutes for each load. The chicken may not be totally done but it is going back in the sauce and will finish cooking. Take the chicken out and set aside.

Add the onion, celery and green pepper to the pot and cook slowly until onions are wilted.

2 cups chicken broth
2 cups tomato juice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of sugar

Cook over low-medium heat until the oil floats above the sauce or about 20-25 minutes. You want the heat to be more than a simmer, maybe a slow bubble. The sauce will reduce down by maybe one-fourth.

4 cloves of garlic finely diced
Salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste.

Add the chicken and garlic back in the pot. Cover and cook about 5 minutes over low-medium (slow bubble) heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. Lean heavily on the Cayenne to give the sting which is what makes this dish Piquante. Cover and cook another 5 to 10 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.

Serve over steamed rice along with a big green salad and crusty french bread.

If I were making this for a party, I would make the sauce including the diced garlic and do the chicken earlier in the day and then refrigerate separately. About 30 minutes before serving I would reheat the sauce and then add the cold chicken. It will take longer to finish cooking the chicken. Just check to be sure that the chicken is fully done before serving.


jennifer rose said...

Just one piece of advice for your new faux Le Creuset. Do not throw it at coyotes, not under any circumstances. That's a good way to break a Le Creuset dutch oven.

Billie said...

Jennifer, thanks for the advice. Next time we are together I want to hear the "rest of the story."

glorv1 said...

I love that bakeware. I've yet to buy myself an expensive dutch oven as that and now that I've seen yours, I'm headed to the store this week to get myself one. Your chicken in piquante sauce looks delish. I made chile verde today. Thank you for sharing.

DanaJ said...

You have an 8 burner cooktop in San Miguel? Wow.

Billie said...

Gloria, Go to amazon and take a look at the brands and also the comments about them. So far I'm a happy camper with the Lodge.

Dana, I do not have an 8 burner cooktop. It is six. There is no "surface" just burners. It is the standard 30" wide stove. The first one I had wasn't insulated very well. This one looks very commercial and stylish but the most important thing is that it is a good tool.

Chrissy y Keith said...

I am cooking pork green chile in mine right now. Good choice.

jillian said...

making this tonight in my only le creuset - it was a wedding gift! might add a little home grown habanero...

Billie said...

Yucatan----by all means add haberno. I've cooked it here using fresh roma tomatoes peeled (because I couldn't get canned tomatoes) and serranos. It will work but I do like the sting of the cayenne. Good luck.

Kay Cox said...

Gee, this looks good and yummy. Wonder how it would do in a crock pot just kinda throwing everything in together? Or brown the chicken, then throw everything in....

glorv1 said...

Billie I actually went to Kohls and bought a Food Network product. Heavy duty enameled cast iron pot. I love it and I just posted about it. Thanks for the suggestion and please go see my pot. You'll like it too. I don't have anything in it yet:DD