I feel that chicken often gets a bum rap. It is an inexpensive meat and many often turn to chicken to stretch their budget. It is easy to feed a family of 4 for under 10 dollars.

However, chicken is a very versatile protein. Its blank canvas lends itself to many different ways to cook it as well as things to serve with it. In the movie Forrest Gump, Bubba tells Forrest the many ways you can serve shrimp. I think there are as many, if not more ways, to serve chicken. My two recipes this week use two different cuts of chicken, cut up whole chicken and chicken breast.

Chicken Fricassee is a dish that I remember fondly. My grandmother cooked it often. I was once asked what the difference was between this dish and Chicken Stew. The difference is the cooking of the chicken. You cook the chicken in the roux for a few minutes for a Fricassee. This gives a crusty texture to the chicken. For Chicken Stew, the chicken is cooked after the liquid is added.

Chicken Fricassee

1 Chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
Creole Seasoning to taste
2/3 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Onions, Chopped
1 cup Bell Pepper, chopped
4 to 5 cups warm Chicken Stock
2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons Green Onions, chopped

Season the chicken pieces generously with Creole Seasoning. Set aside.

In a large black iron or stainless steel pot, make a roux by combining the oil and flour over medium heat. Stir constantly for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is dark brown. Add the onions and bell peppers. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat well with the roux mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes. Slowly add the stock and the bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about two hours, or until the chicken is tender. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Remove the bay leaves, then add the parsley and green onions. Serve immediately.

This dish is named after the buildings that surround Jackson Square in the French Quarter. The Pontalba apartments on the upper floors of these buildings are considered the oldest continuously-rented apartments in the United States. The dish was created at Brennan’s restaurant and is widely found on menus in New Orleans.

Chicken Pontalba

Olive Oil
8 6-ounce Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
Creole Seasoning
1/2 cup Butter
4 tablespoons Garlic, minced
2 cups Onions, chopped
2 cups Green Onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups Ham, diced
2 cups Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cup Potatoes, diced and deep-fried about 2 minutes
3 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped
3/4 cup White Wine or Chicken Stock
3 cups Bérnaise Sauce, recipe to follow

Preheat oven to 175℉.

In a large skillet, pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Season the chicken with Creole Seasoning. Sauté the chicken over medium heat until done, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and keep warm in the oven.

In a sauté pan, melt butter and sauté the garlic, onions, green onions, ham, and mushrooms until the mushrooms are brown. Add the wine or stock and reduce by 1/3. Add fried potatoes and parsley and cook 2 minutes. Put 1/8 of the potato mixture in the center of the plate. Place the chicken breast on top. Top with a generous amount of Bérnaise Sauce.
This is a variation of Hollandaise Sauce. A classic French sauce, Bérnaise is a great sauce to serve over chicken and steaks. This blender recipe is a simple way to make this sauce.

Bérnaise Sauce

2 tablespoons dried Tarragon
3/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Shallots, minced
2 Egg Yolks
1 Whole Egg
2 sticks (1/2 pound) Margarine
1 stick (1/4 pound) Butter
1 1/2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground White Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté tarragon, red wine vinegar and shallots for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture becomes paste-like and remove from heat. Melt margarine and butter over medium heat. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a blender, blend egg yolks, egg, vinegar, cayenne, white pepper and lemon juice. With blender on, pour melted margarine/butter slowly into other ingredients. Blend to thicken. Add the tarragon mixture and blend well.

Next time you are feeling creative, pick up some chicken and experiment away.