Zesty, flavorful – and perfect for Mardi Gras or the Big Game
So we have the Super Bowl this Sunday, followed soon after by Mardi Gras. Calling all party planners!
This Cajun-spiced chili serves up New Orleans in a bowl, which makes it perfect for both events. Best of all you, can make it a day or two ahead of time – because the flavor only improves as it rests in the fridge.
All planning should be this easy.
Recipe: Cajun-Spiced Chicken and Andouille Chili
We call this recipe “Cajun-spiced,” but it could also be called “Creole-spiced” because of the tomato the dish contains. More about the distinction between Cajun and Creole cuisine in the Notes.
This recipe blends traditional chili with Cajun/Creole flavors. We use dried chile powder and Cajun spices, although you could substitute regular chili powder and Cajun seasoning (see Notes for an explanation of the differences).
We like to make this dish with dried red beans, but you could easily substitute canned beans (again, see Notes).
We use chunks of chicken, and prefer boneless thighs because they have more flavor and texture. But boneless breast meat would work, too. You could also try ground chicken (or turkey).
Prep time for this recipe is about 30 minutes (plus at least 8 hours of soaking time if you’re using dried beans). Cooking time is 1½ to 2 hours, largely unattended.
This recipe makes about 6 to 8 servings. It’s easy to double if you’re serving a crowd.
Leftovers keep well for several days if refrigerated in an airtight container (in fact, the flavor improves). Or you could freeze the leftovers for up to two months.
- 8 ounces by weight dried red beans (we use small red beans, but kidney or pinto beans work too)
- ~1½ pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
- ~1 teaspoon kosher salt for seasoning the chicken (about half that if using regular table salt; see Notes)
- ~1 pound andouille sausage
- 1 to 2 tablespoons oil for browning the chicken and sausage
- 1 onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 rib celery
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (green or red; to taste)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic (to taste)
- additional salt for seasoning the veggies
- 1 tablespoon mild to medium chile powder (ancho is mild; Hatch chile powder tends to be hotter)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 2 teaspoons dried cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried coriander
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (may substitute diced)
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Crystal; optional)
- jalapeño slices/dice for garnish (optional)
- Soak the beans: Pick over the beans to remove any grit or dirt. Place the beans in a bowl and cover with several inches of water. Allow the beans to soak for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight).
- When ready to cook: Drain the beans and place them in a large cooking pot over medium stovetop heat. Add enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch (add more water during cooking if necessary). Set a timer for 1½ hours.
- Slice the chicken into chunks of 1 to 1½ inches, then sprinkle the pieces lightly with salt. Set aside.
- Cut the andouille sausage into rounds (or half rounds) about ¼-inch thick, or maybe a little larger. Set aside.
- Place a large frying pan on medium stovetop heat. Once the frying pan is heated, add the oil. When the oil is hot (about 15 seconds; it’ll shimmer), add the chicken chunks and brown them on all sides. Don’t overcrowd the pan; you may have to do this in batches. When the chunks are browned, set them aside on a plate lined with paper towels. Then brown the sausage pieces in the same oil (add more oil if necessary). Set the browned sausage pieces aside on a separate plate lined with paper towels.
- Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut it into dice of about ¼ inch. Set aside.
- Wash and core the bell pepper, then cut it into pieces of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Wash and peel the celery, then cut it into dice of ¼ inch or so. Set aside.
- Wash the jalapeño pepper(s), cut off their stem ends, then cut them in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds and ribs. Be careful – the oil from these is hot, so avoid touching your eyes. Chop the peppers into small dice. Set aside. Then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Peel the garlic and cut it into fine mince or thin slices. Set aside.
- By now, the chicken and sausage pieces should be browned and waiting (Step 5). Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, and jalapeño pepper to the frying pan (add more oil if necessary). Season to taste with salt (about 1 teaspoon kosher salt for us, but see Notes). Sauté the mixture until the onion is translucent (5 to 8 minutes). Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the browned chicken and sausage pieces back to the frying pan, then add the chile powder and the spices (oregano, thyme, paprika, celery seeds, cumin, coriander, and cayenne). Stir to combine all the ingredients and sauté for an additional minute or two.
- Scrape the contents of the frying pan into the bean cooking pot. Add the tomato and hot sauce (if using). Continue cooking until the timer goes off. At that point, taste the chili and add more salt (and hot sauce) if needed. Check to make sure the beans are tender; if not, continue cooking until they are.
- Serve the chili with a garnish of jalapeño slices or dice (optional). We always put hot sauce on the table so people can add more heat if they desire.
- We often like to serve cornbread with chili.
- We sometimes add a pound of shrimp (peeled and deveined) to the chili. We add it to the cooking pot about 10 minutes before serving, so it doesn’t get overcooked. Shrimp makes the dish seem even more New Orleans to us.
- Want to use canned beans rather than dried? Use two 15-ounce cans. Drain them in a strainer or colander, then rinse off the gunk they’re stored in. Brown the chunked meat and sauté the veggies, then combine all the ingredients in a large cooking pot. Add 2 to 3 cups of water, then cook for 1 hour.
- BTW, if the chili isn’t as liquid as you’d like, add more water.
- What kind of chile powder to use? Ancho if you want something mild (most supermarkets carry this, so it’s easy to find). Dried chipotle chile powder if you want something hot. Or Hatch chile powder if you want something in between.
- Chile (with an e) powder consists of ground chilies. Chili (with an i) powder is a blend of chile powder plus other seasonings. If you don’t want to bother with chile powder in this recipe, you can substitute chili powder. The store-bought mixtures are usually pretty wimpy, so add 1½ tablespoons (or to taste).
- If you don’t want to measure out all the individual spices, you can use a Cajun/Creole seasoning powder. We like the Tony Chachere brand, but others are available. Use 1½ tablespoons (or to taste). Be aware that most commercial Cajun seasoning powders have a high sodium content, so adjust the salt accordingly.
- Speaking of salt, we use kosher salt in cooking. Because kosher flakes are larger than those of regular table salt, it’s less salty by volume. So if substituting regular table salt, start with about half of what we suggest. But always taste as you cook, and adjust the amount of salt to your own preference.
- If you’re doubling this recipe, we suggest using one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes and one can of diced tomatoes.
- If you want extra tomato flavor, add a small can of tomato paste. Add it to the sautéed veggies in Step 11, before you add the spices. Sauté it with the veggies for a couple of minutes, then add the spices.
- Tabasco and Crystal are probably the most popular brands of hot sauce in New Orleans. But use another brand if you prefer.
- What’s the difference between Cajun and Creole food? “Creole” refers to the original European settlers of Louisiana, especially those from France and Spain. Cajuns are descendants of people who moved to Louisiana from French-speaking Acadia (located in what are now the Canadian Maritimes).
- In general, Cajun food tends to be more rustic, while Creole food is more European-influenced. Tomatoes are much more common in Creole than in Cajun dishes (although both cuisines use them). Creole dishes tend to be fancier – which is why they’re commonly found on New Orleans restaurant menus. But the overall flavor of both cuisines is quite similar.
“So the St Louis Mardi Gras parade is coming up soon,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Raucous crowds and all.”
“Yup,” I said. “We’re second only to New Orleans when it comes to wild revelry on Fat Tuesday.”
“Should we dare to head down and collect some beads?” asked Mrs K R.
“Dunno. The forecast says it will be seriously cold,” I said. “We may need some extra antifreeze.”
“Well, there won’t be a problem finding that,” said Mrs K R. “Though driving home might create a hazard.”
“If we can even make it to the car,” I said. “We’re likely to get trampled by party animals before we reach it.”
“So maybe we should stay in our warm family room and toss beads to Kitty Riffs?” said Mrs K R.
“She’d love that,” I said. “And we wouldn’t be party to any mishaps.”
Guess you could call us responsible parties.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Red Beans and Rice
Cajun-Spiced White Bean and Andouille Soup
Red Beans and Rice Soup
Or check out the index for more