Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cajun Chicken Ragu – An Old and Misspelled Mardi Gras Classic

Many years ago, at a small neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco, a young cook got to do his very first menu “special.” It featured pulled chicken, Cajun sausage, and peppers stewed in a rich, spicy gravy; and was served over grilled French bread. 

Not sure what to call it, the inexperienced, but handsome cook described it as a, “sort of Cajun ragout of chicken,” which made it on to the specials board as, “Cajun Chicken Ragu.”

Yes, I was that young cook, and the following recipe is pretty close to that historic dish. While I did enjoy it over the grilled bread back in the day, a gravy this awesome really deserves to be served over a big pile of rice. These are the kind of things you learn as you mature. That, and make sure you spell out your specials to the disinterested waiter writing the chalkboard.

Anyway, since I’m not going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (I’m allergic to feathers and drunk tourists), I thought I’d dust off this old, personal favorite, which while not totally authentic, certainly celebrates those fabulous Cajun/Creole flavors.

As I mentioned in the video, this works with any kind of chicken, raw or cooked. As long as you simmer the gravy to an appropriate thickness, and make sure your meats are fully cooked, and heated through, you should be in bon shape. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 large portions of Cajun Chicken Ragu:
6 slices of bacon, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
large pinch of salt
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 cups cold chicken broth
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8 oz andouille sausage, sliced
2 or 3 cups pulled chicken meat
1/4 cup chopped green onions, plus more to garnish
*check for salt and seasoning, and adjust at the end!

View the complete recipe


Jef Willemsen said...

Looks great :-) But, as an avid fan of your recipe for gumbo... How is this different tastewise from the chicken gumbo without the okra? Surely, the addition of the bacon (fat) and difference in roux preparation can't make that much of a difference... ;) Or are you gonna challenge me to prepare this dish and judge for myself? Yeah. I figured that :P

cookinmom said...

Handsome??? I bet your wife would agree with that!!! ;0)

cookinmom said...

Handsome??? I bet your wife would agree with that!!! ;0)

Mike K said...

How do you say "very tres bon" in French? ;)

This may very well be one of the best recipes you've ever posted, Chef John. And so presentable!

Please keep the Cajun goodness coming — it's a great warmup to Mardis Gras proper!

Mike K said...

How do you say "very tres bon" in French? ;)

This may very well be one of the best recipes you've ever posted, Chef John. And so presentable!

Please keep the Cajun goodness coming — it's a great warmup to Mardis Gras proper!

tadees said...

Question Chef John - how much of a time difference does using non-stick versus aluminum/stainless steel cookware is there? I ask because all of my cookware is non-stick and your times and my times rarely match. I can, and do, make adjustments on the fly,of course, but just curious if there's a semi-standard "add one extra minute/five minutes"-difference.
As always, very much appreciate the effort and time you take in making your recipes. Cheers!

piprod01 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
philogaia said...

I was just going through the freezer last night and noticing that I squirreled away a lot of meat stock over the holidays which hasn't been getting used and trying to figure out what might be a nice stew or soup to do. Then today I saw okra on sale (yes I know there is no okra in the dish but there could be.) This looks like just the ticket as I wanted something a bit different. Great timing. Think I'll make use of the pork stock.

Sweet y Salado said...

That's interesting, I lived in Vegas for a few years and turns out I'm also allergic to drunk tourists!

Chef John said...

tadees, the type of metal really should effect cooking times! Too many variables to give you a simple answer. The size, thickenss of metal, your burners, etc. all effect. I have pro burners, so going to be faster for me to heat a pan for example.

lisa0116 said...

Chef John,
Another marvelous dish sir! I had to work with the groceries on hand though. I did not have the sausage. So, I used sliced pepperoni that I diced up. LOL! It worked great! I omitted the bacon due to that too but yet used bacon grease for the trinity. Always keep bacon grease in the fridge. I too like others kept wanting to add okra to this but all I had was some breaded okra for frying in the freezer. That would have been great on the side and will do that with the leftovers. My husband added cashew halves on top of his on his plate. It looked so good I had to do the same. The cashews were excellent on top.

And a note to those thinking it's going to be like gumbo like I thought too, it really does not taste anything like gumbo.

Chef John said...

Yes, thanks! While similar on the surface, this really tastes different than gumbo!

philogaia said...

I did make this dish tonight using chicken leg/thigh pieces I roasted for the occasion, some excellent andouille, my own bacon, pork stock and...fresh okra that I decided to deep fry and use as garnish. So @lisa0116 I can safely say that great minds think alike. I laughed to see your post about the breaded okra. Though I just did mine rolled in flour as I wanted it crispy but not breaded.

Justeat` said...

Chef Jhon,
Your recipes are really good n food taste very yummy when it made using your recipes

Don Frye said...

Chef John,
Have you ever been deep into the Amazonian rainforest to take ayahusca with a local shaman? I have. You will see, feel and hear the spirits which inhabit those parts. You will be able to communicate with plants, animals and a superior intelligence which looks over us with infinite compassion and love. The story of the universe will be explained to you. You will step into a different dimension but which is very real and exists.
But I digress...
Long live Chef John and his cooking videos! Hip hip hooray :) Bravo Chef John and bon appétit !

Half-Assed! said...

Made this a couple days ago and like everything else you make it was delicious! Tonight I added more broth and seasonings dumped in some rice and ate it as soup, equally delicious! Thanks Chef John.

MostLuxury said...

No salt?

Lisa from Indiana said...

Made this for Sunday Supper today. Perfect for a cold, damp, blustery day here in Indiana. So good!

And you know what works really good with this recipe? Chef John's perfect white rice. Yep. A match made in heaven.

Lisa from Indiana said...

Made this for Sunday supper...perfect for a cold, damp, blustery day.

And you know what goes perfectly with this dish? Chef John's perfect white rice. Match made in heaven!

As usual - I totally enjoyed!

Chef John said...

Yes salt! It's mentioned in video and twice in ingredient list! ;)

Meghan said...

Made this for dinner last week - another winner! Any time I make something new, my husband will ask "Is this a Chef John recipe?" before taking a bite. It's like a quality seal for him. Ha!

Rachel S. said...

Wow! I made this last night and didn't change a thing (which is pretty rare when I cook) It was so delicious! The consistency of the ragu over rice was just perfect. My boyfriend ate 2.5 servings (and he's not a big guy) I had just enough to save for lunch today. I can't wait!

marthajill said...

We had this for supper tonight. Another fantastic Chef John recipe. (And yes, I posted our supper menu on my facebook face and got plenty of "likes".) My husband too asks, "Is this a Chef John recipe?" His opinion of your culinary advice is so high that I think I could serve him boxed Cornflakes and he'd be delighted if I told him "Chef John says you'll love these."

Evelyn Tynes said...

Tonight was the third time I've made this in the past few months. The family LOVES it. I replaced 1/4 cup of the chicken stock with chilled zinfandel wine to deglaze, then stir in the stock. Another hit in this house, Chef John. Thanks! <3

Mike Zimmerman said...

Hi Chef John,

I made this last night for my wife. My differences were that I had to use Polska Kielbasa (no andouille around). I browned the sausage first, then cooked the bacon. Also used a yellow pepper in place of the green - my wife despises green peppers - boo! But it was good last night, and incredibly awesome today as the flavors sank in overnight. Awesome dish - I love it! Oh, do you think my Kielbasa instead of Andouille thwarted a little of the cajun-ness of this? Because it didn't have as much cajuny taste as I expected.

Chef John said...

I'm sure it did, is that sausage has a much different flavor!

Moggy Kubota said...

Made this last night for dinner. Only thing I did different was to brown the sausage slices fist. It was delish. Also made your pita bread recipe to go with it, those are always a hit. Thanks for the great recipes Chef John.

Rowena said...

Chef John,
What can I substitute for the andouille sausage?

Rusty Shackleford said...

I've made this several times and it has always been great. I made it tonight and added a half cup of Merlot with the stock. It is now on another level.