Chicken Piquante

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Creole and Cajun food are my happy. I love New Orleans – the easy way of life, the amazing food, the incredible people, and being able to walk around with a bev in hand on the street.
I found this recipe a few years ago and have tweaked it to make it my own. I’d never heard of it, but found it in a Creole cookbook of my dad’s that looked like it had been used way more than once. That’s always a good sign!
Chicken Piquante (sometimes called Chicken Sauce Piquante) is basically a super flavorful, somewhat spicy dish served best over rice. The essentials are, of course, the holy trinity: onion, pepper, and celery. You must also get a good roux going so that your sauce is thick and delectable.
 Chicken Piquante

Chicken Piquante
1½ tbs. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. paprika
3 – 4 lbs. chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 small poblano chile, seeded and diced
1 tbs. finely chopped garlic
5 plum tomatoes, diced
2 cups canned tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth
1 tbs. dried thyme
4 bay leaves
4 dashes of hot sauce (Tabasco)
Steamed rice
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Whisk together the salt, peppers, chile powder, and paprika in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and use your hands to toss until evenly coated; set aside.
  
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke slightly. While the oil heats, toss the chicken with flour to coat.
Shaking off the excess flour from the chicken, transfer the pieces to the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. Fry the chicken in two batches so you don’t over crowd the pan – the chicken should be in one layer, and not on top of each other. Reserve the leftover flour. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a deep plate, leaving the oil in the pan.
Add the remaining flour to the oil and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes to create a medium-brown, peanut butter-colored roux. Add the onion, celery, poblano, and garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Add the chicken, tomatoes, broth, thyme, bay leaves, and hot sauce. Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened to a light gravy and the chicken is tender enough to shred with a fork. 
Garnish with scallions. Serve over steamed rice with crusty bread. And a hurricane.

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