Cajun-Style Chicken and Smoked Ham Stew

Get a taste of Louisiana cuisine in this intensely delicious stew.

The region is known for its Cajun country seasonings, which include spice blends of cayenne and paprika mixed with black pepper, dried herbs and dried onion and garlic. The recipe uses another distinctive feature of Cajun cooking: a dark-colored roux (flour and fat) that provides a background of deep flavor. Serve the stew with a big scoop of steamed rice.

Cajun-Style Chicken and Smoked Ham Stew

1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces, patted dry
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Cajun Rub, divided
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 large bay leaf
12 oz. ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (32-oz.) carton lower-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Combine all Cajun Rub ingredients in small bowl (should be about 1/4 cup). (Rub can be made up to 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 months.)

2. Sprinkle chicken with 1 tablespoon of the Cajun Rub in large bowl; toss with 1/4 cup of the flour to coat. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Brown chicken, in batches, 5 minutes turning to brown all sides. Remove chicken.

3. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons flour into pan drippings until smooth. Cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until roux is deep chestnut brown, stirring constantly, adjusting heat if necessary and watching carefully towards the end to avoid burning.

4. Stir in onions, bell pepper and celery; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring constantly. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, and remaining 1 teaspoon Cajun Rub. Add ham, chicken with any accumulated juices and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer 1 hour or until chicken is no longer pink in center, stirring occasionally. (To thicken juices, remove chicken and vegetables with slotted spoon; boil over high heat 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return chicken and vegetables.) Remove bay leaf; sprinkle with green onions and parsley before serving. Sprinkle with additional Cajun Rub mixture, if desired.

4 (1 3/4-cup) servings

PER SERVING: 560 calories, 28.5 g total fat (7 g saturated fat), 53 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 135 mg cholesterol, 2130 mg sodium, 3 g fiber