Sick Days. We all have them now and then; however, I must admit that, fortunately, mine are far and few between. But last week I had one of those days, when waking up without a voice was followed by a day of coughing and sneezing. Yuck!
Nevertheless, dinner had to get on the table and it’s my job to get it there. Sure, I could have accepted my better half’s offer to get take out or order in, but I find that my own cooking, no matter how simple, does a better job of putting me on the road to recovery.
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.”