Chicken in Creole sauce is one of the greatest ways of preparing this ubiquitous bird: chicken is eaten virtually everywhere in the world.
Who doesn't like chicken?
Chicken must be the most universally known food, uniting the non-vegetarians of the whole world. Apart, that is, from weird people like my mother who would not only not touch chicken but any dish she harboured a poultry-related suspicion about.
Soup could have been made with chicken stock; meatballs may not have been made of pork, everything that she’d not cooked herself was a suspect. She was the original conspiracy theorist: everywhere restaurants and dinner party hosts were plotting to hit her with chicken.
I am not entirely sure why she disliked chicken so much; at the end of the day who does? But I think she was kind of a dithering wannabe vegetarian. She could stomach (hehe) a piece of pork or beef because it bore no resemblance to the shape of an animal; with chicken though, there was no escaping the sight of a wing or a leg.
I definitely did not take after her bias; chicken dinner was a red-letter day for me, more so as Mother refused to even cook chicken at home. It had to be eating out at a restaurant or staying at friend’s for dinner for me to get to eat chicken. I bemoaned my chickenless fate and tried hard to make up the moment I left home.
Fun facts about chicken
Is there anywhere in the world where they don’t eat chicken? It seems unlikely. Perhaps only the Innuits of the Arctic, who rely on seal blubber and fish, do not have it on everyday menus.
Chicken does not only cross the road but boundaries, continents and religions as well. It is probably the only animal not forbidden in any known faith, though less highly rated in Judaism.
It was revered by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greek, both for its value as food, as entertainment in the form of cockfighting and as prophetic and sacrificial instrument. It found its ground in Northern Europe against the competition of partridge, geese and other wild fowl; and it held its own in Americas, facing off turkeys and ducks.
The true world supremacy, infamously, came in the 60s and 70s with the invention of battery farms. Depressingly, the birds who have adjusted to being fed antibiotics and vitamins and reared indoors, have also become so unadventurous that even the free-range ones are not inclined to venture much beyond the feeding trough.
Spare a thought for this curious bird when you prepare my recipe below, and make sure your poultry was organic or at least free range.
Chicken Creole the easy way
Chicken in Creole sauce is probably not strictly traditional but as seen above, there isn’t a cooking method not tried on chicken. This time it is the more or less classic Creole sauce made easy, with roux cooked over softened vegetables, as advised in NY Times Cooking.
I use the Creole ‘holy trinity’ of onion, pepper and celery but have cooked the sauce with leek and spring onion too, with good results. Once the vegetables are softened in butter, I sprinkle them with flour and cook it stirring until it all starts to smell a little bit like fresh bread! Which is the wonderful thing about cooking roux.
Then in goes stock and tomatoes in one form or another – here as puree – and the fantastic Creole seasoning that I mix myself, of easily available spices.
And finally, the chicken. I admit I sometimes chuck it into the sauce raw, without searing in a separate pan, thus saving on washing up but I’d recommend browning it by the book to ensure it cooks through, as well as gets a bit of caramelisation going.
And that’s all. Serving it with tortilla chips is my own fusion idea but it’s not that far from New Orleans to Texas, is it? Both are equally far from here – that's my excuse. And the fact that it tastes together fabulous.