For this week’s main dish, I tried a type of cooking I have never ventured to attempt before: Cajun. Growing up in Quebec, Cajun cooking was never really a part of our culture. There is one Cajun restaurant in Montreal that I know of, and it’s there as a bit of a novelty. It’s interesting that it isn’t more prevalent, seeing as Cajun food is partly influenced by the French Canadians that made their way to the Southern U.S.
When I came across a recipe the other day for Cajun style chicken, I immediately passed it over out of habit. Then I thought about this new challenge I’ve set myself, to come up with original weekly recipes, and I decided that going outside my comfort zone was exactly what I needed.
I did what I often do with recipes; I read it, got a sense of the key ingredients and proportions, and then went to work creating something similar, but with my own little twist. The result was this stew which I am naming “Cajun Chicken Stew.” What makes it Cajun you ask? Two things. One, I whipped up a spice blend using lots of paprika, garlic and onion powder, and cayenne. Two, I used the “Cajun holy trinity” of cooking: bell peppers, onions, and celery. I’ve read and heard many times that these three ingredients are the foundation of most Cajun dishes. Funny enough, they are also the foundation of a lot of my cooking! Maybe I have a little Cajun in me after all 🙂
- 2 chicken breasts, cut in bite sized pieces & sprinkled with salt and pepper
- 1 large bell pepper, diced
- 2 carrots, sliced thin
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 small potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tbsp onion powder
- 1/4 tbsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- Small pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Handful fresh parsley, minced
- In a large pan, sauté the chicken pieces in a little oil, until lightly browned on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t worry if they are not fully cooked, you will continue cooking them later. Transfer chicken to a plate.
- Add some more oil to the pan, and add the pepper, carrots, celery, potatoes, and onion. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender. Add the garlic and spices, sauté 2 minutes more.
- Add the chicken broth and cover the pan. Let simmer 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Add the chicken and any juices that have accumulate on the plate to the pan and let simmer 2-3 minutes more, until potatoes and chicken are fully cooked.
- In a cup, stir the arrowroot powder with 1 tbsp cold water. Add this to the simmering stew and stir until the sauce is thickened. Take the stew off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Serve the stew as-is, or spoon it over rice or noodles. Enjoy!