Back from a week of enjoying authentic Venetian dishes and returning to my tutoring position in Harlem made me long for some homemade American comfort food. Among the first emails I read when we got home was one from the New York Times Cooking Newsletter that had a link to a recipe for Craig Claiborne’s Smothered Chicken. The original recipe appeared in a feature he wrote for the Times in 1983: “Make Dinner: A Home Cooking Manifesto.”

The recipe appealed to me not only for its comforting qualities but also for its ease. It requires minimal shopping: a small chicken; the rest of the ingredients are kitchen staples: chicken stock, flour, butter, salt and pepper. It’s also a one-pot dish: a cast-iron skillet and takes about an hour and a half to complete.

Even with getting back from work around 6:30 and having to go food shopping, I was able to get this dish on our table by 8:30.

Accompanied by some quick-cooking couscous, buttered peas, and an American Chardonnay, the dish delivered all the comfort we were looking for. After we finished, we looked at each other with contented smiles and I thought: “Gee, it’s great to be back home.”

Here’s a link to the New York Times Recipe.

Craig Claiborne’s Smothered Chicken

Spatchcock a small chicken, by removing the backbone with a pair of kitchen shears, and season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Melt butter in a heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron, and add the chicken skin-side down.

Spatchcocked chicken in the pot
Spatchcocked chicken in the pot

Cover with a dinner plate and weigh it down with a heavy weight. As you can see, I used an enameled cast iron casserole.

The weighed down chicken
The weighed down chicken

Cook over low heat until it is browned well (about 25 minutes) and then turn skin side up.Replace the place and the weight and continue to cook for about 15 minutes more.

Browned side up
Browned side up

Remove the chicken from the pan. Pour off most of the fat, add some flour and cook for a few minutes stirring with a wooden spoon.

Cooking the flour and the fat

Slowly add some stock and whisk until thickened. Adjust the seasoning.

Whisking the gravy
Whisking the gravy

Return the chicken to the skillet skin side up, Cover again with the plate and weight and continue to cook over low heat for about 25 minutes. Spoon with the sauce before serving.

Chicken spooned with the sauce

Wine Pairing: Full-bodied Chardonnay

2 thoughts on “Smothered Chicken

    1. Thanks. Surprisingly not at all; there was no sticking whatsoever and the skillet cleaned up easily as always with just hot water. In fact, Claiborne recommend it way back then.

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