Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gracious Gifting

My husband's father is one of seven children. Several of them are scattered around the country, but there are a few that still reside in upstate New York where they grew up. The Upstate New York aunts and uncles have had a pretty vibrant game of regifting going on for quite some time now. Don't be alarmed - it isn't the run of the mill, secretive and tacky regifting you pray every year you don't fall victim to during the holiday season. This regifting is openly advertised and kept solely amongst my husband's aunts and uncles. They save gifts that they have received from their siblings and when another one of their birthdays roll around they bestow the honor of receiving that gift to another victim. They never give the gift under the guise of a new one. The receiver knows they are getting a recycled gift and that is where the fun lies. It is very humorous and quite entertaining.

I wasn't aware of this little game they play until I benefited from it recently. My mother-in-law and father-in-law went to visit their New York family about a month ago and my mother-in-law received a regift that she generously passed on to me. It was a copy of Paul Prudhomme's first cook book and I couldn't have been more elated to accept the famous hardback. I read through each recipe title in the entire book and was ecstatic to have recipes to some of the most classic Louisiana dishes from one of the most classic Louisiana chefs. I think it is quite ironic how the cookbook that has been described as the best Louisiana regional American cookbook ever published made its way into this Louisiana girl's DC kitchen via a bunch of regifting New Yorkers - Thanks Aunt Beth!

Chicken Sauce Piquant
Adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen

Makes 8 Servings


Seasoning Mix:

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 pounds of bone-in chicken pieces
Vegetable oil for frying
1 3/4 cups chopped onions
1 3/4 cups chopped green bell pepper
2 stalks of celery
1 14.5 oz can of peeled and chopped tomatoes (drained)
2 whole fresh jalapeno peppers (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon of Tabasco sauce
4 cups chicken stock

Hot cooked rice or pasta


Combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well.

Mix 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix into 1 cup of flour. Remove excess fat from the chicken pieces and sprinkle the remaining mix evenly on the chicken pieces. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour until well coated.

In a large skillet heat 1/2 inch of oil to 350 degrees. Fry chicken (large pieces and skin side down first) until browned and crispy on both sides and meat is cooked,

about 5 to 8 minutes per side. Do not crowd. (Lower heat if drippings start getting dark red-brown; don't let them burn.)

Drain chicken on paper towels. Carefully pour the hot oil from the skillet in to the glass measuring cup, leaving as much sediment in the pan as possible then return 1/4 cup hot oil to the skillet.
Turn heat to high. Using a spoon, loosen any particles stuck to the pan bottom and then add the onions, celery and bell peppers;

cook until sediment is well mixed in to the vegetables, stirring constantly and scraping pan bottom well. Add the tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and garlic;

stir well and cook about 2 minutes,

stirring once or twice. Add the tomato sauce

and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Tabasco and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place the chicken pieces and stock in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes. Then stir half the tomato mixture in the stock;

cover and simmer over low heat 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining tomato mixture, cover and simmer 10-15 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Skim fat from the top of sauce using a rolled up paper towel skimmed across the top of the sauce. The paper towel will absorb the fat.

Remove from heat and serve immediately over rice or noodles.

"Piquant" to a Cajun means "it's hot and 'hurts like a sticker in your tongue.'" If you want less "piquant," reduce the jalapeno peppers by half.


teresa said...

What a lucky "regift!" This looks delicious!

Gabriela (Gabi With An Eye) said...

...or in my case, "double" the use of jalapeƱos! Loved your story - and your photography. Congratulations on having received Prudhomme's book and on having such a thoughtful Aunt Beth!

Anonymous said...

That looks fantastic!

MaryBeth said...

Looks good but yet sounds very spicy, my husband would love it!