Welcome to Direct Your Dining! This cooking series will introduce you to energy efficient recipes full of tips to keep your meals delicious without using every appliance in the kitchen. Preparing recipes with energy efficiency in mind at least once a week will make cooking a little easier, and may even help reduce your monthly electricity bill. Check in every week for a new recipe full of flavor and creativity that will surely impress your friends and family.
It’s time for another low energy use recipe employing our favorite energy-saving appliance: the slow cooker. Yes, we feature this device quite often, but it’s a great way to impart lots of flavor while creating a warming meal in the cold of winter.
This week, we’re coating chicken thighs in Cajun spices, stuffing them with boudain, and then smothering them with a fresh vegetable gravy. This is a great holiday recipe, as it takes some of the classic ingredients you already have on hand (including leftover Thanksgiving gravy!) for other recipes and re-imagines them. For example, the seasoning imparts spicy, savory, and salty flavors that pair perfectly with the rich gravy and chicken.
For this Cajun chicken recipe, I recommend purchasing the skin-on, bone-in thighs. Why? Because they have the most flavor, are easier to stuff, and are the least expensive way to buy large chicken thighs.
Just what is boudain? It’s a classic sausage in Cajun cuisine that features a pork and rice mixture with spices. Simply cut off the end of the boudain link and slide off the casing to remove the filling. This is what you will mash into the 4 round, flat mounds that are perfect for stuffing between the chicken skin and meat of the thigh.
If you don’t have leftover homemade gravy from Thanksgiving or a recent Christmas party, purchase 1 jar of beef gravy and 1 jar of classic chicken gravy from the store and mix them together with extra Cajun creole seasoning. This will be a great, easy substitution, as it will still get extra homemade flavor imparted into it from the vegetables and the stuffed chicken thighs. Also, for maximum flavor, make sure to serve the smothered vegetables in the gravy along with the thighs.
One final note: If you plan on eating the skin on top of the thighs because you like your chicken skin crispy, pop the thighs under the broiler on high for 4 minutes to brown and crisp up the skin right before you serve the dish.
Smothered and Stuffed Cajun Chicken
- 4 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 Boudain links
- 1 Medium yellow onion, sliced
- 1 Green bell pepper, sliced
- 2 Celery stalks, diced
- 2 Green onions, sliced
- 3 Garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp. Cajun creole seasoning (one with salt)
- ½ tsp. Paprika
- ¼ tsp. Garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. Onion powder
- ¼ tsp. Black pepper
- 2 c. Gravy (homemade or store-bought beef and chicken combination described above)
1) Measure out and prepare the ingredients as directed above.
2) Combine the seasonings to create a rub.
3) Remove the boudain filling from the casing of the links. Separate into 4 even portions and mash to make round, flat circles for stuffing.
4) Separate the skin from the chicken meat. Stuff the round boudain filling into the hole. Season each thigh with ¼ tsp. of the seasoning mixture.
5) Add the vegetables to the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning on top of them.
6) Place the stuffed and seasoned chicken thighs on top of the vegetables.
7) Pour the gravy into the slow cooker, ensuring the ingredients are evenly coated.
8) Set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours.
9) Once done, broil the thighs in the oven on high for 3-4 minutes to crisp the skin.
10) Serve the stuffed thighs atop the smothered vegetables and gravy to keep the skin crispy.
This Cajun chicken dish will be a perfect weekend dinner to warm up your family after you finish your holiday shopping for the evening.
Check back in every week for more Direct Your Dining recipes to help reduce your energy use in the kitchen while getting creative with delicious dishes!
Recipe and Images by Stacie Morgan