• Tommy Centola

Cooking up new chicken dishes

With all this time on my hands, I find myself looking through the cookbooks on my shelves. With a collection of over 200, there are plenty to look through. I have also stumbled over some of my mother’s old restaurant guides. I remember looking through them and studying the different restaurants.

The original food critic in New Orleans was Richard Collin. He was a history professor at the University of New Orleans. He has heard about the Underground Gourmet series by Simon and Schuster. He wrote them, asking if they were interested in a book on New Orleans. They agreed and a second career as the New Orleans Underground Gourmet was born. I have first edition copies of the three guides he released.

Richard was more than just a critic. He was also a very accomplished cook. Along with his second wife Rima, the wrote the New Orleans Cookbook. It is from this book that I am sharing two chicken recipes, Chicken Maquechoux and Old Style Broiled Chicken. The cookbook was originally published in 1975. It is one of my prized references.

Maquechoux is a traditional Cajun side dish. This corn and tomato dish is a combination of Creole and Native American cuisines. This recipe adds chicken to Macquechoux and creates a delicious one-pot meal.

Chicken Maquechoux

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 small fryers ( 2 1/2 to 3 lis. each), cut up

3 1/2 to 4 cups fresh corn scraped off the cob, corn cob liquid reserved (sub 14 to 16 ounces frozen or canned corn when fresh is unavailable)

2 tablespoons heavy cream

3 cups chopped onions

2/3 cup green pepper, chopped

2 large Creole (beefsteak, Jersey) tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon dreid thyme

1/4 dried basil

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley

3 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons milk, if necessary

In a heavy 8 to 10-quart pot or kettle, heat the oil over medium heat. Brown the chicken parts in the hot oil, turning frequently with tongs to brown evenly. Reduce heat low once the chicken begins to brown (about 15 to 20 minutes), then lower heat still further and add the corn, corn liquid, and cream. Mix thoroughly. Add the onions, green pepper, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper and cook over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, or until chicken is very tender, stirring frequently. If the mixture seems to be becoming too dry, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk toward the end of the cooking period. Serve hot in soup or gumbo bowls.

I find that the broiler has become the most underused part of the stove. I know it is easier to pick up a Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store than cook your own. The problem with those chickens are that they are cooked far in advance. The flavors of this home cooked broiled chicken will explode 1n your mouth.

Old Style Broiled Chicken

1 fryer (3 to 3 /12 pounds), quartered

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon very finely minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons salted butter

Wash and dry the chicken. Sprinkle both sides of each quarter with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, parsley, and lemon juice, then set aside while you preheat the broiler, broiling pan, and rack.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Pour half the melted butter on the skin side of the chicken pieces, then place them skin side down on the hot broiling rack. Pour the remaining butter over and broil, about 7 inches from the flame, for 20 minutes on each side. Serve with the juice and butter that collect in the broiling pan poured over the chicken.

Chicken used to be the star of Sunday dinner. I hope that one of the good things to result from the coronavirus is the reestablishment of the large Sunday family dinner. I know that these chicken dishes will have everyone running to the table.


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