Cajun Chicken Fricassee is a delicious and hearty stew that combines the bold flavors of Cajun cuisine with tender, juicy chicken. This classic Louisiana dish is made by slowly braising chicken in a roux-based sauce, along with a blend of vegetables and savory spices. The result is a luscious smothered chicken dish typically served over rice that is perfect for your Mardi Gras celebrations or any occasion.
When Susan and I were in New Orleans, we attended a cooking demonstration that included Cajun Chicken Fricassee.
Given that Mardi Gras season is in full swing, I thought that it would be fun to focus on Mardi Gras-themed foods, including this delicious Chicken Fricassee recipe.
How to Make Roux
Cajun Chicken Fricassee is a roux-based dish.
There are four stages of roux that are commonly used in cooking:
- White roux: This is the lightest stage of roux and is made by cooking equal parts flour and fat (such as butter or oil) together until the mixture becomes a pale, creamy consistency. White roux is typically used as a thickening agent for sauces and soups and is often used in dishes like macaroni and cheese.
- Blonde roux: This roux stage is made by cooking the flour and fat mixture for a little longer until it becomes a light golden color. Blonde roux has a slightly nutty flavor and is often used for making Béchamel sauce and mornay sauce. It is also used to thicken a cream-based gravy or to add body to soups.
- Brown roux: This stage of roux is made by cooking the flour and fat mixture for an even longer period of time until it becomes a deep, rich brown color that resembles peanut butter. Brown roux has a strong, nutty flavor and is perfect for gravies. Brown roux is used in Cajun and Creole dishes like étouffée and gumbo.
- Dark brown roux: The final stage is a dark brown roux, with a color resembling Nutella. Its aroma is more mellow than the strong, roasted flavor of brown roux. This stage has the least thickening power of all four, and its main purpose is as a flavoring agent, with the thickening being secondary.
The cooking time for roux can vary depending on the recipe and the desired outcome. For all of the stages, it is important to stir the roux constantly while it cooks to prevent it from burning and to ensure that it cooks evenly.
Ingredients: Here’s What You’ll Need
- The Chicken: For this recipe, I used a whole chicken. I could have also used chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or a selection of chicken parts.
- The “Holy” Trinity: In Cajun cooking, the “holy trinity” refers to a combination of three aromatic vegetables that are used as the base for many dishes: onions, celery, and bell peppers. Often garlic is added and sometimes referred to as the “pope’s nose.”
- The Mushrooms: In this recipe, I added mushrooms which have a rich, savory flavor that adds depth and complexity to the Cajun Chicken Fricassee.
- The Seasonings: The seasonings in this recipe included Cajun seasoning, Kosher salt, and black pepper. For the Cajun seasoning, I used Emeril’s Essence.
- The Roux: The roux in this recipe was a simple mixture of vegetable oil and all-purpose flour. Because of the high heat, I used peanut oil. I knew that olive oil and other low-heat oil would not work here.
- The Liquid: The final ingredient was chicken broth or chicken stock which provided the liquid to this delicious Cajun stew.
Preparing and Cooking the Chicken
- First, I removed the backbone from a whole chicken using kitchen shears and cut the remaining chicken in half.
- After patting the chicken dry with paper towels, I coated both sides of the chicken halves with 1 Tablespoon of Cajun seasoning.
- Next, I heated ¼ cup of peanut oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and added the chicken. I browned the chicken on both sides and removed it from the Dutch oven. This took about 5 minutes.
- Finally, I added the remaining ½ cup of peanut oil and the flour to the Dutch oven. I started stirring it constantly over medium-high heat.
Here’s How I Made the Roux
I cooked the roux for the Chicken Fricassee to the dark brown stage. As previously mentioned, this stage has the least thickening power but the most taste.
- I used the roux paddle that I purchased in New Orleans to constantly stir the flour and oil over medium-high heat. The consistency of the roux was like a pancake batter. After about 5 minutes, the roux reached the blond stage, signaling that it was time to lower the heat to medium.
- I continued to cook the roux, constantly stirring over medium heat until it reached the dark brown stage. At this point, the roux was the color of Nutella. This took about 10 minutes.
Adding The Rest of the Ingredients for Cajun Chicken Fricassee
- Working quickly, I added the onions, celery, and bell pepper to stop the flour from cooking. Still using the roux paddle, I stirred the mixture to ensure that the vegetables were well incorporated into the roux. I cooked this mixture for about 5 minutes.
- Then, I added the garlic and cooked it for about 30 seconds until it was fragrant. Next, I added the mushrooms and the remaining Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. I continued cooking the mixture, occasionally stirring, for another 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, I added the chicken broth, and returned the chicken to the Dutch oven.
Finishing the Cajun Chicken Fricassee
I covered the Dutch oven and simmered the chicken over low heat for about an hour until the chicken was well cooked and starting to fall off the bone. At this point, I removed the chicken from the Dutch oven.
I removed and discarded the skin and bones from the chicken. Then, I shredded the chicken into bite-size pieces. Next, I returned the chicken pieces to the sauce.
Once everything was well heated, I served the Cajun Chicken Fricassee over white rice, along with a Caesar salad and crusty French bread.
Whether you’re interested in trying something new or want to bring a taste of New Orleans to your dinner table, Cajun Chicken Fricassee is sure to be a hit. So why not try it and see for yourself just how delicious this dish can be? Yum!
Both Cajun Fricassee and French Fricassee are stews made with meat and vegetables. However, Cajun Fricassee is roux-based, while French Fricassee is made with a Béchamel sauce that generally contains wine. Cajun Fricassee uses the holy trinity of onions, celery, and bell pepper as the main group of vegetables. French Fricassee uses mirepoix which is a combination of onions, celery, and carrots.
The main difference between Cajun cuisine and Creole cuisine is the addition of tomatoes in Creole dishes and no tomatoes in Cajun dishes.
I used a Dutch oven in this recipe. However, the recipe would also work well in a slow cooker.
Leftovers, if any can be stored covered in the refrigerator for several days, or frozen for several months. I generally reheat the leftovers in the microwave.
While my preference is to serve this delicious New Orleans-style smothered chicken over rice, it is equally delicious served over pasta or mashed potatoes.
In cooking, fricassee refers to a dish containing pieces of meat and vegetables stewed in a savory sauce.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- I like to use kitchen shears to remove the backbone. The reason is that kitchen shears tend to cut through the bones better than a knife.
- The reason for removing the backbone was two-fold. First, I wanted the chicken pieces to lay somewhat flat in the Dutch oven. Second, the backbone sometimes imparts a bitter taste to dishes.
- Even though I used a whole chicken in this recipe, you could certainly use chicken breasts and/or chicken thighs. The reason, however, that I used a whole chicken was for the added flavor and nutrients from the chicken bones during the slow cook.
- Cooking the roux uses somewhat high temperatures. Therefore I generally use peanut oil because of its high heat characteristics. You could, however, use vegetable oil. I would, however, avoid using olive oil because it its low heat characteristics.
- Emeril’s Essence is my go-to Cajun Seasoning. I like to make this ahead of time and keep it in a sealed jar.
- I would avoid using either a plastic or silicone spoon or spatula when making the roux. The reason is that the high heat could melt or damage the plastic or silicone.
Other Classic New Orleans-Style Dishes
If you’re looking for amazing classic New Orleans recipes to make for Mardi Gras or any time for that matter, you should also check out the following:
If you liked this recipe for Cajun Chicken Fricassee, please consider rating it and leaving a comment. I’d love to know how you liked it!
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Cajun Chicken Fricassee
- 4 pound whole chicken, backbone removed and cut in half (See Tip 1)
- ¾ cup high heat oil, divided (See Tip 2)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, divided (See Tip 3)
- 1 ½ cups onion, diced (1 large)
- 1 ½ cups celery, diced (about 6 stalks)
- 1 cup bell pepper, diced (1 large)
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Hot sauce to taste, optional
- Green onions, chives or parsley for garnish (optional)
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Coat both sides of the chicken with 1 Tablespoon of Cajun seasoning.
- Heat ¼ cup vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken; brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from Dutch oven.
- Add the remaining ½ cup of oil and the flour to the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with roux paddle or other type of wooden spoon until the mixture reaches the blond or light brown stage, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the roux, stirring constantly until it reaches the dark brown stage, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully because the roux will quickly burn at this point. (See Tip 4)
- Add the onions, celery and bell pepper to the roux; stir to combine. Cook over medium-low heat stirring occasionally, until the mixture is creamy, 5 minutes. Add the garlic; cook for 30 seconds, and then add the mushrooms and remaining Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir; cook for 5 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the chicken broth or stock; cook stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Return the chicken to the Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to low; cover the Dutch oven and simmer for 1 hour, or until chicken is fork tender and beginning to fall off the bone.
- Remove the chicken from pan. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken; discard. Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces; return the chicken pieces to the Dutch oven. Heat the chicken fricassee for 5 minutes or until heated though. Serve over rice. Yield: 6 servings.
- I like to use kitchen shears to remove the backbone.
- Generally, I use peanut oil because of its high heat characteristics. I would avoid using olive oil here.
- Emeril’s Essence is my go-to Cajun Seasoning. I like to make this ahead of time and keep it in a sealed jar.
- Do not use plastic or silicon spoon or spatula. Because of the high heat, either may melt.