Étouffée is a classic dish in New Orleans' cuisine. It's typically made with shellfish, such as shrimp or crawfish, and served over rice. For Vieux Carré's menu, chef Jeana Pecha offers a twist on the classic étouffée dish by using rabbit. Here, she uses chicken, part of which is used in the sauce, while the roasted legs and thighs are served on top. Although you can use pre-made stock for this dish, making your own will impart a richer flavor.
2 whole chickens, skin on
2 onions, medium dice
4 celery stalks, medium dice
1 pound uncooked bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cloves garlic, medium dice
1 large fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
2 cups dry red wine
3 cups chicken stock
1 large tomato, medium dice
6 cups cooked white long grain rice or cheesy grits (recipe follows)
INSTRUCTIONSCut chicken into parts. Debone chicken breast and cut meat into 1 inch cubes.
Sprinkle all the chicken with salt and pepper.
Roast legs/thighs at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Sauté bacon in a wide pot over medium heat until crisp.
Transfer cooked bacon to paper towels, reserving the cooking grease.
Increase pan heat to medium/high and add cubed chicken meat in the bacon fat, cooking in batches so you don't crowd the meat. Sauté until browned, turning often, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon butter, onion, garlic and celery to the pot. Sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add thyme and bay leaf and stir for one minute.
Return cooked, cubed chicken and bacon to pot.
Add wine and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes.
Finally, stir in enough chicken stock to cover meat and bring to a boil.
Cover pot tightly and cook until the chicken is very tender, about 45 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To serve, scoop cheesy grits onto a plate. Top with a generous amount of étouffée, and finish with a piece of roasted chicken.
Stone ground grits
Prepare grits according to package directions, except use milk instead of water.
Stir in parmesan when grits are finished cooking.
— RECIPES COURTESY OF VIEUX CARRÉ CHEF JEANA PECHA