Chicken Big Mamou

This recipe would not typically qualify as a “Tuesday night meal” for our family. Normally, we’d be rushing from piano to soccer, or Quiz Bowl to tennis, and I’d be looking for something that comes together in less than 30 minutes while kids finish up homework.

Except during a stay-at-home order. And then, sign me up for a long-simmering, delicious kitchen-scenting, project of a weeknight meal like this one.

My friend Mike introduced me to this version of chicken sauce piquante. And like most of my extrovert friends, I know this has been harder on him than many. Mike is a North Louisiana boy who is more than a little in love with South Louisiana culture. He’s a parrain, not just a godfather; he tells the best Boudreaux and Thibodeaux jokes; he rides in Mardi Gras parades; he’s a staunch Catholic, a true LSU fan, and one of the best story tellers I know.

And every once in a while, usually for some big LSU game, he makes Chicken Big Mamou for us. So when my husband brought home chicken thighs and I had hours to let a sauce simmer fragrantly in the background, this definitely gave us something different to enjoy.

Recipe, adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 2 bell peppers (I prefer red), chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 Tablespoons Cajun poultry seasoning (Prudhomme, of course, recommends his own “Poultry Magic.” I didn’t have this, so I substituted a mix of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, thyme, sage, rosemary, and marjoram… just anything you’d usually use to season chicken)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (start here, but you can always add more)
  • 1 can (2 cups) tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chiken, cubed (I prefer thighs, but you can use breasts, too)

Procedure:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sautee for 8-10 minutes, until translucent but not brown. Add the bell pepper and cook until soft, 10-12 minutes. Add one stick of butter and stir until melted. Then add the garlic, bay leaf, 1 tablespoon Cajun poultry seasoning, and cayenne, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The goal is to reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon. If you double the recipe, you can let it go even longer.

Meanwhile, cube the chicken and season it with the remaining 2 Tablespoons Cajun poultry seasoning. Set aside (or cover and put in the fridge until the sauce is finished)

When the sauce is thick, in a separate pan, melt half of the remaining stick of butter. Brown half of the cubed, seasoned chicken. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce, then repeat with the rest of the butter and seasoned chicken. Add the chopped green onions.

Cook until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve over egg noodles (as we did), rice, grits, or even just toast. You can’t go wrong with this one.

It was a big hit with my little extrovert, too.

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