Most weekends, I try to get ready for the week’s meals. Sometimes that means getting ingredients to try something new…sometimes it means making sure I just have lettuce for salads…and sometimes it means making sure I have enough cash for the cafe at work. 🙂 But usually I make something that I can easily bring with me all week. This week, I picked a good one…Cajun chicken stew.
The stew itself was very easy to make. It’s a rich, spicy sauce with big chunks of chicken, onions, and peppers. The roux for the sauce is cooked for a while, getting a rich brown color and deep flavor. Served over rice, this recipe from Gourmet Magazine was perfect reheated this week.
To start, cut up 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast. You want to cut the chicken into bite size chunks. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 teaspoons salt, then cook in 4 batches until browned all over, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large bowl.In the same pot, you’ll make the roux, which is really just fat and flour cooked together that’s used for a thickener and flavor. You’ll need 1/4 cup olive oil. You could use the fat that’s left in the pot, and add extra to reach 1/4 cup. When I made this, though, there were some small pieces of chicken that burnt to the bottom, so I ended up cleaning the pot and starting with new oil. Heat the oil over medium low heat. Add 1/2 cup flour to the fat. Stir to combine, then cook for 10 to 20 minutes until the color of milk chocolate. The recipe I had said not to stir, only to scrape back and forth, but I’ll admit it, I stirred, and it still came out great.Once the roux is the color of milk chocolate, add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped green bell pepper, and 1 chopped celery rib. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add 3 cups water to the mixture, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. The roux will start out not looking very smooth or combined, but as it heats and comes to a boil, it will come together.Add chicken and any juices from the bowl, reduce the heat, and simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Finally, stir in 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if you can handle it. I can’t!To serve, just scoop the chicken, vegetables, and delicious sauce over rice. And, as I said, it reheats in the microwave beautifully, making it just perfect as my lunch this week! 🙂