Emotional ties to food have long been of interest to me. The way Chet talked about this dish; pining for it before he cooked it, savoring it while he gobbled it up, and re-hashing it’s glory long after the last drop was gone; I knew I wanted to share it with y’all. So that those who would like to can recreate it, yes, but also to share a small piece of what shaped him into the person he is. For him, the memories and comfort tied to this dish are just as important as ingredient ratios. This dinner may not be your jam but it’s creation is universal….a person, longing for a taste of home, steps into the kitchen…
Rice and gravy has been a staple of Cajuns since we started farming rice after arriving in Louisiana in the 1700s. It’s something I ate at least once a week growing up, and it’s a popular dish because of its simplicity and affordability. The method and cook time of the dish is good for turning otherwise tough or less desirable cuts of meat into an amazing meal that can feed a whole family This is a good Sunday meal because of the cook time involved, though the prep is simple.
- 4 Large chicken thighs with bones and skin removed
- 1 lb of smoked sausage
- 1 Large onion, diced
- 1 Large bell pepper
- Cajun/Creole seasoning (Tony’s or any similar brand should work fine, but you can also make your own by combining salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper)
- 2 TBSP Oil of your choice
- 2 Cups water
- 1 Cup of rice
Bring oil to medium high In a large pot (preferably cast iron). Add chicken and brown thoroughly. I usually do this for around a half hour. Keep moving the meat around and it won’t burn. If the meat is sticking to the pot too much, add a little water.
After the chicken is browned, remove it and add veggies. Let the veggies cook down for about another thirty minutes. If they start to stick, add a little more water. Around 15 minutes in, your kitchen should be smelling really, really good. You should also begin to notice a nice yellow broth forming in the pot. That’s your signal to add the sausage.
Keep cooking down the mixture and adding water as needed. Once your veggies are soft and you have a fair amount of that yellow juice, return your chicken to the pot, add enough water to cover the meat, and reduce heat to low (if you’re using a cast iron pot, you could even set your range to warm).
Let it cook on low for a good 5-6 hours, stirring one every half hour. It’s going to reduce quite a bit, and that’s fine. Just add water as needed and let the meat cook down. Season to taste about halfway through.
It will be significantly darker when it’s finished, and there should be some oil accumulating on top. Skim off what you can and then serve over rice.
This dish is traditionally served with corn, and most folks like to toss it right in with the gravy. Enjoy!
Nostalgia aside this dinner was DELICIOUS. While I consider this dish pretty quintessential Cajun, there are similar meals and methods in many cultures. Do you prepare something like this? What dishes call up memories of home for you? What meals will you continue to pass down and keep cooking for years to come? Share below!