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Smothered Chicken Recipe

The history of smothered chicken dates back to the early days of Southern cooking in the United States. This traditional dish was commonly made by African American cooks during the era of slavery and has since become a staple in Southern cuisine. Smothered chicken gets its name from the cooking method, where the chicken is essentially "smothered" in a rich and flavorful gravy. It is a dish that exudes comfort and is often served with classic Southern sides like mashed potatoes, green beans, or cornbread.

Now, let's dive into a delicious recipe for smothered chicken.

Ingredients:
- 2 (3-4 lb) tender chickens, cut in half and split down the back
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- All-purpose flour for dusting
- Cooking fat (such as vegetable oil or bacon fat)
- 2 cups of hot water
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Cold water for thinning flour
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1 cup of strong chicken stock
- 1 can of mushrooms, broiled

Instructions:

1. Start by generously salting the chicken pieces and letting them drain in a colander for a few minutes. This step helps remove excess moisture from the chicken and ensures better browning.

2. Preheat your oven to a high temperature, around 425°F (220°C). Grease the bottom of a baking pan with cooking fat to prevent sticking.

3. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with pepper, then place them in the greased baking pan, breast side up. Add the chopped celery and onion around the chicken.

4. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, which will help create a nice crust. Drizzle a small amount of cooking fat over the chicken pieces to promote browning.

5. Pour the hot water into the baking pan, taking care not to pour directly over the chicken. The water will help create steam and keep the chicken moist during cooking.

6. Place the pan in the preheated oven and let the chicken brown evenly for about 30-40 minutes. At this point, the chicken should be golden and crispy on the outside.

7. Once the chicken is browned, cover the pan tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Reduce the oven temperature to a low setting, around 300°F (150°C), and continue cooking for an additional 1-2 hours. Cooking the chicken slowly and at a lower temperature will ensure maximum tenderness.

8. While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the sauce. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the flour thinned in cold water and minced parsley to the pan drippings.

9. Stir the mixture constantly for 2-3 minutes, allowing the flour to cook and thicken the sauce. Gradually add the strong chicken stock, stirring continuously for a smooth consistency.

10. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until it thickens to your desired consistency. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

11. Finally, broil the mushrooms until they are caramelized and slightly golden. Pour the broiled mushrooms over the smothered chicken when ready to serve, adding a delicious depth of flavor.

12. Serve the smothered chicken on a hot platter, and don't forget to spoon the rich sauce over the top. This dish pairs well with mashed potatoes, rice, or cornbread, and steamed vegetables for a complete Southern-style meal.

Fun fact: Smothered chicken is a versatile dish that can be easily customized to suit your taste preferences. You can add additional seasonings like garlic, thyme, or paprika for extra flavor. Some recipes also include chopped bell peppers or diced tomatoes for a twist.

Similar dishes to smothered chicken include country-fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, and Swiss steak. These dishes typically involve coating the meat in flour or breadcrumbs and then frying or braising it in a flavorful sauce. Each dish offers its own unique twist on the concept of smothered meat, resulting in a comforting and satisfying meal.

So, roll up your sleeves and give this classic smothered chicken recipe a try. With its tender and juicy meat smothered in a rich gravy, it is sure to become a family favorite. Enjoy!

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