Not sure exactly how it happened, but there’s been a cruel trick played on the men of this world and I am out to correct the injustice. At some point in history, it seems there was a secret agreement among all women that the custom of Father’s Day is to be celebrated by dads everywhere toiling all day long, sweating in the sweltering Louisiana heat over a hot barbecue pit cooking up a big spread while the women relax in the shade sipping sweet tea. Not only does papa have to bring home the bacon, but on the one and only day of the year held in his honor, he has to cook it up on the grill.
Give us a break.
It’s time to turn the tables on mom. I’m laying down my fork and spatula. I’m proposing a boycott (appropriate name) or call it a sit-down strike at the dinner table to put an end to this travesty of tradition. This Father’s Day, I am proposing an easy recipe that every mom can make and every dad will rejoice in. It’s creamy, it’s spicy, it’s smoky and, best of all, this recipe features dad’s favorite — beer.
As all Acadiana men know, Louisiana has a long beer-drinking history that dates back to the original Jackson Brewery in the late 1800s. Jax became one of the top beers in the country and other Louisiana bottled brews have followed – Regal, Falstaff and Dixie to name a few. Most faded out, and a new group of craft beers has surfaced led in 1986 by the Abita Brewing Company located on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain.
Abita has quickly gained cult status with serious beer-drinking dads who love their heady brews with catchy names. Jockamo is one of those — a pale ale with a copper color and a malty flavor. It’s time to brew up an original Father’s Day dish that balances the deep and spicy notes of the hops with the sweet backbeat of the malt.
Two of my favorite Italian recipes are Veal Marsala and Fettucine Alfredo. So, for this Father’s Day, I’ve put a Cajun spin on these ethnic favorites. I am replacing the Marsala wine with Jockamo beer, chicken instead of veal, and I elevate the pasta with a smoky tasso cream reduction.
Cream reduction is a very common Louisiana cooking technique of sauce-making, and when combined with bold ingredients, it elevates a variety of Cajun dishes. The only secret to a good reduction is to start with good cream. Grade A, heavy whipping cream is a must and a wide pan help the thickening process by expanding the surface area. The timeless French method of simmering cream slowly over a low fire creates bubbles that allow moisture – water – to escape. The result is a smooth, velvety reduction that coats the back of a spoon or any number of center of the plate choices – veal cutlets, lamb chops, fish filets.
A basic cream reduction serves as a medium for infusing flavor. In this dish we take a paneed boneless chicken breast that is lightly breaded and sauced with a mushroom and tasso-infused, cream reduction served over fettuccine. And in this version we spike the cream sauce with Abita’s Jockamo, a bold and sassy brew with a character all its own. It’s that boldness that carries this dish and lays a solid foundation on which to build this reduction.
So, I implore all you kitchen queens and black pot princesses out there, please give us a once-a-year break. Help put an end to this misguided madness. The fathers in your family will love this dish and will love you for making it, and making June 16 their one day of honor.
Men, you can thank me later.
- Water, for boiling
- 2 tablespoons table salt
- 1 pound package fettuccine noodles
- 4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- I cup canola oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 serrano chili pepper, seeded and diced small
- 2 cups diced tasso or smoked ham
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle Jockamo beer or any quality beer
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more if needed
- ½ lemon
- ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- In a large stockpot filled half way with water over high heat, add salt and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and stir to make sure all of the noodles are submerged. Let cook until al dente. Pour the noodles into a colander and run hot water over them to eliminate any starchy residue. Move the pasta to the side for later.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Place the chicken breasts between pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap. On a hard surface, pound the thickest part of the chicken breasts with a kitchen mallet or the back of a heavy pan to a uniform thickness.
- Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with Cajun seasoning along with garlic powder and black pepper. Dredge the seasoned chicken pieces in flour with an even coating and place on a platter.
- In a large heavy oven-proof skillet over medium heat, melt 1 stick of butter. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until browned. Remove the mushrooms to a platter and keep warm.
- In the same skillet over medium heat, add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and sauté until brown on both sides. Move to a paper towel-lined platter to drain.
- In the same skillet, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and add the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes, and add the rosemary, garlic, Serrano pepper as well as the tasso and cooked mushrooms. Stir the mixture and incorporate all.
- Turn the heat to high and pour in half the bottle of beer. Stir the beer into the mixture with a spatula and scrape the bottom of the pan releasing all of the bits stuck to it. Bring to a slow boil and watch as the beer begins to evaporate.
- Reduce the heat and bring the pan to a simmer. Add the cream along with a squeeze of lemon and continue sautéing as you slowly reduce the sauce. Once it begins to thicken add the chicken back to the pan and spoon over the sauce. Move the pan to the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and cut the chicken breasts into serving size portions keeping them in place in the pan. If the sauce has become too thick, add some more of the cream. Add the fettuccine noodles, spooning over the sauce and stirring to combine the noodles. Sprinkle with grated cheese and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
- For serving, remove the pan from the oven and garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve in the middle of the table with crusty French bread to sop up the cream sauce.
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