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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Try signature dish in kitchen

Whether you know it or not, every cook has a recipe that is their signature dish. It’s your go to dish that you cook often. It can be simple or complex. It’s always requested time and time again.

I am often asked what are my favorite dishes to prepare. I have a few that would fall into the category of signature dish. My Crab Cakes is my original one. Today, I want to share with you two dishes that fall into this category, Chicken & Sausage Étouffée and White Chocolate Bread Pudding. These dishes are often requested by family and friends. Let’s head to the kitchen.

Étouffée is my go to dish when I’m looking to serve a true New Orleans dish. The cover picture of my latest cookbook, Creole & Cajun Comfort Food, is a picture of my Crawfish Étouffée. Since many people are not crawfish eaters, this recipe is a copy of that one. It’s one of my wife’s favorites.

Chicken & Sausage Étouffée

Butter flavored cooking spray

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 pound smoked sausage, sliced and cut into half moons

Creole seasoning

1 1/2 sticks butter

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons tomato sauce

3 cups chicken stock

2 bunches green onions, chopped

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Salt, pepper and Creole seasoning to taste

Cooked rice or pasta

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken and sausage to skillet and season with Creole seasoning. Over medium heat, sauté until

chicken is almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. remove from pan and set aside.

Wipe out skillet. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in flour until well blended. Cook for a minute or two. Gradually stir in the tomato sauce and stock until well blended. Add the chicken and sausage and bring to a simmer. Add the green onions, parsley, salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes over low heat, until chicken is cooked through. Add additional chicken stock if needed for desired consistency. Adjust seasonings and serve over rice or pasta.

I have always liked to cook with white chocolate. This dish has become one of my signature dishes. Traditional bread pudding recipes use leftover French bread. I wanted a dish that wasn’t as dense. The use of croissants accomplishes that.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce

3 cups heavy cream

10 ounces white chocolate chips

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

8 egg yolks

6 large croissants

White Chocolate sauce (See below)

Preheat oven to 275℉.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream but do not boil. Remove from heat, add the white chocolate, and stir until melted and smooth. In a double boiler over barely simmering water, beat the milk, sugar, eggs, and egg yolks together, and heat until warm. Blend the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Place the croissants into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Pour ½ of the chocolate mixture over the croissants. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then pour in the rest of the chocolate mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Top with White Chocolate sauce.

White Chocolate Sauce

8 ounces white chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

In a double boiler, over barely simmering water, melt chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat and mix in the heavy cream. Keep warm. To store, let cool slightly and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, in a double boiler, melt over barely simmering water and stir until smooth.

I hope you enjoy cooking my signature dishes as much as I do. If you’re like me, you take extra pride in cooking these dishes. They are what your cooking is known for. So head to the kitchen and cook your signature dish tonight. Your family will thank you.

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