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Cajun Chunky Chicken Chili

I figured out how to take a couple of pounds of that great ground chicken sausage Glenn Mistich makes at the Gourmet Butcher Block and (with a little Southern ingenuit

I figured out how to take a couple of pounds of that great ground chicken sausage Glenn Mistich makes at the Gourmet Butcher Block and (with a little Southern ingenuity) turn it into some of the best smothered chunky chicken you ever tasted. If you serve it over rice, it's chili; if you ladle it over French bread boats it's sinful!

2 Tbsp.extra virgin olive oil

1-1 1/2 finely diced yellow onions

1 cup finely diced celery

2/3 cups finely diced bell peppers

1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms

3 lbs. bulk chicken sausage

1 Tbsp. finely minced garlic

2 tsp. Frank Davis Poultry Seasoning

4 cans fat-free chicken broth

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet

1/2 cup Marsala wine

2 tsp. Salt (or to taste)

1/3 cup all purpose flour + 1/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup finely minced parsley

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

8 Pee Wee French bread rolls, 4 inch size

6 cups cooked Mahatma long grain rice

Instructions: First, in a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven or oval roaster, heat the olive oil almost to the smoking point. Then drop in the onions, celery, bell peppers and mushrooms and fry them down until the mixture begins to brown ever so slightly. Now add to the pot the bulk chicken sausage, toss everything together uniformly, and - still over high heat - cook the ground chicken until it becomes totally opaque and you can no longer detect any rawness in the meat.

At this point, drop in the minced garlic and the poultry seasoning and incorporate them both into the mixture. Then pour in the chicken broth and thoroughly stir in the Worcestershire sauce, the Kitchen Bouquet, the wine and the salt. When all the ingredients are fully combined, cover the pot, place it in a 400 degree oven, and bake it for 3-1/2 hours. Don't uncover the pot at all during the first 3 hours! And don't worry about it - it won't burn.

After the chili is done, remove it from the oven and meticulously skim off the excess fat that has accumulated on the surface of the dish by the slow rendering process. Note - you only need to do this if you're going to serve the dish immediately. If you're serving the dish, say, the next day, then you can defat the chili by chilling it.

After the fat is removed, place the pot on top of the stove and (once again over high heat) stir in as much of the flour mixture as you'll need to thicken the chili to your desire (it should be pasty, but it shouldn't be soupy either). Oh - and remember that the flour will need to simmer for about 5 minutes after each time it's added.

When the texture and tenderness is to your liking, quickly stir in the parsley and the green onions and simmer for 5 more minutes. Then, while it's still piping hot, either ladle the chili over a mound of hot buttered rice or spoon it into a toasted and buttered French bread pirogue. Served alongside a cold, crisp green salad, this is hard to beat, yeah, cher!

Chef's Notes:

1. This dish cooks best in a heavy cast iron or club aluminum Dutch oven or oval roaster. Thin-walled utensils do not hold the heat and "roast" the contents as does heavy metal.

2. Even though you are using chicken, there is considerable fat encapsulated within the meat of the chicken which renders out during slow-cooking. to be heart-healthy, this fat should be skimmed off and discarded.

3. to make the French bread "pirogues," hold 4-inch pistolette in your hand, cut the top out with a sharp knife (the serrated edges of a grapefruit knife works great), and scoop out the spongy bread part. Then liberally brush the hollowed out "boat" with butter and quickly toast it under the oven broiler.

4. Always cook a dish for an additional 5 minutes after adding flour as a thickener. It takes that long for the glutten to cook and for the raw, chalky taste to disappear.

5. Either you make your own chicken sausage by grinding skinless breast, leg and thigh meat in the food processor or you order it prepared and pre-seasoned from Glen Mistich at the Gourmet Butcher Block on Terry Parkway. the phone number is (504) 392-5700.

6. Frank Davis Poultry Seasoning can be ordered by calling 1-800-742-4231.