Chef Frank Brigtsen’s Creole-Acadian cooking has nourished New Orleanians for decades. Numerous awards and accolades adorn the walls of his intimate Riverbend neighborhood restaurant, a fine-dining respite away from the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter. His cuisine is imbued with local flavors, from the spice blends that season his vegetables to the fresh seafood at the center of his many dishes.

With his new “Stay-At-Home” cookbook, Chef Brigtsen shares some of his most personal recipes curated over the years. There’s shrimp and okra gumbo, Italian sausage oyster dressing, and chocolate pecan pie, plus new recipes like succotash and Thai vegetable curry. It’s pure comfort food for uncertain times in a way that only Chef Brigtsen can do.

Chef Brigtsen has shared two of his best recipes from the cookbook, chicken étouffée and perfect rice, for us to recreate at home. Take a crack at it, and pick up his cookbook for more delicious New Orleans recipes.

Chicken Étouffée


CHEF’S NOTES: The word “étouffée” is derived from the French verb “étouffer”, which means to “smother.” If you smother chicken in brown gravy, for instance, you have Chicken Étouffée. There are many variations of Étouffée. Some Crawfish Étouffées, for instance, are really just quick sautés, and some use a blond roux. To me, however, an Étouffée is best with a brown roux. One thing I do differently is make the brown roux separately and let it sit for a while before using. This allows some of the excess oil to rise to the top, and it can be discarded before using. To create depth of flavor and texture in this recipe, the vegetables are added in two stages.

Serves 4
  • ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 1 Tablespoon mild olive oil (pomace or pure) 
  • 2 cups finely diced yellow onion 
  • 1½ cups finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced green bell peppers
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups diced, boneless chicken meat, 1-inch pieces (about 3 lbs.)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon whole-leaf dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon whole-leaf sweet basil
  • ½ teaspoon whole-leaf oregano
  • 3 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock

Make a brown roux

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-duty skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, about 350°, gradually add the flour, whisking constantly. 

Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until the roux turns the color of peanut butter and begins to thicken, 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the roux turns caramel color and thins out again, 3-5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium and continue cooking the roux, whisking constantly, until the roux turns dark brown (chocolate brown). Remove from heat and set aside. Stir once or twice while cooling.

Make the Étouffée

In a bowl, mix together the onions, celery, and bell peppers. Heat the olive oil in a separate pot over high heat. Add half of the mixed vegetables and cook, stirring as needed, until the onions turn brown (caramelized). Add the remaining onions, celery, bell peppers, and the bay leaf. Cook, stirring as needed, until the onions become soft and clear, 6-8 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the diced chicken, garlic, salt, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, sweet basil, and oregano. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chicken pieces turn white, 3-4 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Pour off any excess oil from the roux. Gradually add the roux to the boiling stock mixture, whisking constantly until thoroughly incorporated. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Skim as needed. Serve with Perfect Rice (see recipe below).

Perfect Rice


CHEF’S NOTES: Is it possible to have a life-changing experience with rice? I actually did. On my 24th birthday dinner at the classic French restaurant Crozier’s, Chef Gerard Crozier served a spoon of rice with his very elegant Dover Sole a la Meuniére. The plain rice seemed out of place, until I tasted it. How could something so simple be so good? I learned a valuable lesson: great chefs put great care into everything they do. If every component of a dish tastes great on its own, the overall dish will be that much better. With this recipe, you will never have to worry about rice again. 

Yields 5 ½ cups
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pinch ground white pepper
  • 2 cups Jazzmen® aromatic white rice (or your favorite rice)
  • 3 ½ cups water or stock

Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until the onions become soft and clear, 2-3 minutes.

Add the salt, thyme, and white pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 20-30 seconds.

Reduce heat to low and add the rice. Cook, stirring often, for 1-2 minutes.

Add the water or stock and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to very low. Cover the pot and cook for exactly 17 minutes. Remove bay leaf, stir once, and keep rice covered until service.