Cheese and Hot Pepper Chicken
Makes 8 servings
The sauce for this chicken dish is not only rich and creamy, but also generously seasoned with bell peppers, chile peppers, and spices. Any leftover sauce is wonderful over vegetables!
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6 tablespoons Chef Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Magic®
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 (2 1/2 - 3-pound) chickens, all visible fat removed, each cut into 8 pieces
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
vegetable oil, for frying
2 2/3 cups chopped green bell peppers, in all
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped fresh Anaheim or poblano chiles, in all
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeño peppers
4 cups chicken stock, in all
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Monterey Jack or other white nonprocessed cheese
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Cheddar cheese
4 cups cooked long-grain white rice
how to prepare
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.
Combine the Seasoning Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Combine 1 tablespoon of the mix with the flour in a plastic or paper bag and set aside.
Sprinkle the remaining Seasoning Mix evenly over the chicken and rub it in well. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, and reserve the leftover flour.
Heat ½ inch of oil in a large skillet (I find this dish tastes significantly better if you don't use a nonstick skillet) to 350°, about 4 minutes. Fry the chicken in batches, large pieces and skin sides down first, just until light brown and crispy, about 8 minutes per batch. Lower the heat if the drippings in the pan start to brown, because you'll use the drippings in the cream sauce, and want them to remain light in color and taste so they won't dominate the cheese, peppers and cream. Drain the chicken on paper towels.
Carefully pour the hot oil into a heat-proof glass measuring cup, leaving as much sediment as possible in the skillet, and return ½ cup of the hot oil to the skillet. Add 2 cups of the bell peppers, the onions, and 2/3 cup of the chiles. Turn the heat to high and stir well to mix the vegetables with the sediment. Cook until the onions start to brown, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the bay leaves, salt, and garlic. Stir well, then sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the reserved seasoned flour on the vegetable mixture and stir thoroughly again. Stir in the jalapeño peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Lower the heat if the vegetables stick excessively. Stir in 1 cup of the stock and scrape the pan bottom well. Stir in 2 cups more stock and stir again. Remove from the heat.
Place the chicken in a 5½-quart pot or large Dutch oven. Add the vegetable mixture and the remaining stock and stir well. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally and being careful not to let the mixture scorch, for 25 minutes. Add the remaining 2/3 cup bell peppers, 1/3 cup chiles, the cream, and the sour cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring fairly constantly. Stir in the cheeses and cook, stirring constantly, just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately over rice or pasta.
Note: If you cannot find fresh Anaheim or poblano chile peppers, you can use canned chile pepper strips, either hot or mild, according to your taste.
Copyright© 1995 by Paul Prudhomme