What is it about Italian food? Is it the simplicity of fresh flavors we love so much? I have often wondered if basil comes in a perfume … the sweet aroma draws me in like nothing else. Garlic? Oh yes, please. Cheese, bread, wine … yes, the Italians have got it goin’ on.
Then there is Creole cooking, inspired by Spanish spices and French sauces, leaving its distinct mark on the culinary world. It is a party for our taste buds. Foodies from all over attempt to recreate the magic of this cuisine, though most will tell you the magic safely resides in the kitchens of Louisiana, but we can pretend.
Growing up on a farm in Missouri did not lend itself to culinary adventure, though I can make a mean country gravy. I did not fall in love with Italian or Creole food until well into my twenties, but when it happened, I fell hard. Just barely out of high school, a short trip to New Orleans is all it took to keep me chasing a good bowl of Gumbo ever since. Our trip to Italy solidified my love for everything Italian, not only the food they enjoy, but how they enjoy it. Like Italian, Creole is the kind of food that heightens your senses and encourages feasting; the sauces and flavors stir conversation.
So, why not marry the two?
Well, I can’t take credit for such genius. Emeril’s Chicken Cacciatore inspired this recipe, which should be no surprise since he has been known to kick many recipes up-a-notch. Though the inspiration came from Emeril, this recipe has been reworked to suit our family and preferences. Chicken Cacciatore is a light tomato sauce with hearty mushrooms and accents of fresh basil. The Creole seasoning infuses a pleasant heat and depth in the sauce, wrapping each strand of pasta in Italian-Creole bliss.
When my friend Pati and I make this, we always plan for extra chicken thighs … Creole seasoned, fried chicken thighs demand to be snacked on! I mean, they are right there on a platter, waiting while you to make the sauce, begging to be sampled. Just a warning to plan for such temptations, otherwise, folks might wonder where the chicken went for your Chicken Cacciatore (lesson learned). Another benefit is that it is an easy make-ahead meal and freezes beautifully, often landing on our Monthly Cooking menu.
What about you, is there a food fusion of your favorites you love to make?Emeril’s Chicken Cacciatore
Looking for gluten-free options? Make this recipe gluten-free with just a few simple changes.
1. Substitute sweet rice flour for the regular flour
2. use GF spices
3. serve over rice or quinoa pasta
Follow the rest of the recipe just as it is written and you are set!