Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Taste of New Orleans

Shortly after we were married, Justin and I traveled with about 15 other people to New Orleans to help with the rebuild effort. We were there two years after Hurricane Katrina, and I was not at all prepared for the level of devastation that we would encounter in the 9th Ward, and other places outside of downtown.


I had been to New Orleans before, but was a vegetarian at the time, and wasn't very adventurous in terms of food, so I didn't try much of the local cuisine. So when Justin and I went back, I made it a point to try more of the local food. One of the places that we ate at was The Gumbo Shop, where we had Chicken Espagnole, which I LOVED. In fact, I loved it so much that I bought The Gumbo Shop cookbook, and attempted to make it when we returned, to terrible results. It was WAY too salty, even for Justin.

I decided to try again this weekend, while making a few modifications, and did like how it turned out, though it didn't taste as much like the original as I'd hoped, and didn't have that Cajun "kick" that I remembered. Though, upon further reflection, the difference in taste may be partially due to the fact that The Gumbo Shop's menu says that Chicken Espagnole is "chicken simmered in a brown sauce with mushrooms, shallots, wine, and garlic"....BUT, the Gumbo Shop's recipe doesn't include either shallots OR wine. LOL. Maybe that would make a difference! Either way, it was pretty good, so I thought I'd share the recipe:

{ Just add this recipe to the list of "food that tastes good but doesn't photograph well" }

You Need:
About 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups finely chopped onion
3/4 cup  finely chopped celery
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
{the original recipe calls for 1 tsp white pepper, but I omitted it} 
4 cups reduced sodium beef broth
1 lb sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Cooked Rice (this chicken is always served over rice)

What To Do: 
-First, get the chicken going--either sautee it, or toss it on the grill. If you have a Cajun Seasoning mix, I'd season with that. Otherwise, just season with whatever seasoning salt you'd normally use. We tossed the chicken on the BBQ earlier in the day when we were making lunch, and then cubed it. You can cube it, leave the breasts whole, slice them, whatever. 
-Meanwhile, make a dark brown roux. If you haven't made a roux before, this article from All Recipes gives a good overview.
-As soon as the roux has reached the appropriate color, add the onion, bell pepper, and celelry. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Then, add the garlic, sage, thyme, and black pepper. Cook for about one minute, then stir in beef stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Once sauce just starts to thicken, add the chicken to allow time to heat through. 
- Add the mushrooms, and cook for a minute or two, until tender. Top with green onions, and serve over rice.


  1. Have you ever tried jambalaya? We have a pretty awesome version at my lunch restaurant and they use liquid smoke in it. Ever used that before? I feel like you would love it.

  2. Ah, ugly-yet-delicious food. Sounds damn tasty.


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