It’s getting cold, finally, so everyone in Acadiana is making Gumbo. I decided to change it up a little.
A good portion of us Cajuns ended up in Louisiana because of the Le Grand Derangement, which was the forced removal of the Acadian people from Acadia (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada). I would go more into this but I know the history nerds will swoop down on me like a starved falcon and rip me to shreds with their giant talons if I get it wrong, so short and sweet it is... (click the links for more historical info.)
Anyway... one of my family's patriarchs was one of the largest land and cattle owners in this area. Back then the type and amount of cattle you owned determined your status. Over the years I've done research to see how he got here and how he established himself. Through old cattle and Military records, I found out that he rose through the ranks very quickly and he gathered more and more land and cattle. Now, I had figured out that back then you had to big a pretty big deal to amass all of this in a relatively short amount of time. Me being me, I, of course, convinced myself that my ancestor was some sort of war criminal! Some sort of tyrannical officer torturing innocent people for his own gain. This is what I came from, No wonder we retained none of it! I am paying for my ancestors' mistakes. Yep, after just a couple historical records I was now the offspring of some evil warlord and me and mine would have bad karma until the world forgave our tainted blood. Months y’all! Months, I thought this. Then one day I'm sitting with my family and someone casually mentions “They will love you in Novia Scotia, they love any of Beausoliel’s descendants." Esquezze me? Did you say, Beausoleil? Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil? Seems I missed the part where my ancestor had married one of Beausoleil's daughters (to be fair it was her second marriage so her last name was not Broussard).
For y’all that don’t know Beausoleil is a big deal. He led the largest group of Acadians to Louisiana. Before that he led an Acadian Militia against the impeeding British. In short, he was a bad ass freedom fighter that is revered by both the Cajuns and the Acadians. Seems I am not the descendant of a nefarious warlord, just a man who married well and through that marriage received man land and cattle. It’s back to drawing board to what or who I can blame for my extraordinary bad luck. On the plus side, I found out Beyoncé and I share a sixth great-grandfather, (yes, Beausoleil) so I’ll be expecting my invitation to the family reunion any day now. (Since there is quite a few of us that are descendants we could have one rocking family reunion, hint hint Beyoncé.)
I find us and the Acadians have a special bond, similar to long-lost cousins. Obviously, their way of life is very different from ours. I have a feeling our summers would destroy them and their Winters, well I don’t even want to think about it. They have almost opposite living conditions than we do. I dream of the day I can go visit where my ancestors came from. Until then I connect through food. They have a dish called Chicken Fricot. It’s like a chicken soup with dumplings. As I researched I realized, while tasty, I would have to change some things to please their Cajun cousins. First, I reduced the savory herb in it. It's definitely an acquired taste that we are not used to. Then, of course, I had to add smoked Cajun sausage and spice (y’all are probably sensing a theme for Cajuns). Then it hit me - what if I put minced sausage in the dumplings? Like the sausage bread that is so popular here. I don’t get a lot of genius moments and wish more of them involved money making schemes and less food ideas but this is the card I was dealt. So here it is my Cajuned up Chicken Fricot with sausage dumplings.
I cook my sausage for my dumplings first so it's nice and cool when Its time to make them. Make sure to put the sausage on paper towels to absorb the grease.
If you can try to find a cajun style smoked sausage if you cant remember those shiny perfect smoked sausages aren’t the real deal. You need your sausage wrinkly and not so shiny.
I like to cook my chicken, sausage, and veggies in a cast iron skillet and then transfer to a dutch oven but it can be done in just the dutch oven for a one-pot meal.
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. olive oil
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into cubes
1-2 tbs cajun seasoning (recipe in blog)
1 link of smoked sausage sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
1 small bell pepper diced
1 stalk celery, diced
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp savory (replace with marjoram or fennel if you cant find it)
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
For the Dumplings
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup smoked sausage finely minced
1⁄2 cup milk
Make the soup:
1.Heat butter and oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat.
2.Season chicken with cajun seasoning.
3.Cook until browned, 5–7 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
4.Saute sausage till slightly browned, transfer sausage to plate and set aside
5. Add garlic, onion, carrot, bell pepper and celery to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes.
5.Return chicken and sausage and their juices to pan with stock and savory
6.Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until chicken is tender, 8–10 minutes.
7. Add potato and cook, until tender, about 8 minutes more.
Make the dumplings:
1. Cook sausage in a skillet till browned and drain on paper towels and allow to cool to room temp.
2..Whisk flour, cajun seasoning, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
3. Add sausage
4. Stir in milk until a thick batter forms.
5. Using a 1-oz. scoop or 2 tablespoons, drop batter into simmering soup.
6. When dumplings are puffed and slightly firm, cover pan and continue to cook about 5 minutes more.
7. Lift off the lid and serve.
*The dumplings absorb a lot of the broth so add them right before you are ready to serve the soup.