Smothered Chicken is creamy, comforting, and filling making it ideal for this cold weather we’ve been having. On that note please someone tell the state of North Carolina that we don’t get snow multiple times per season. It’s once, max!
For my Smothered Chicken recipe, I sear some chicken pieces until beautifully brown, then simmer them in a creamy chicken gravy until the meat is falling off the bone. I know a lot of folks fry their chicken, then smother it, but naw. Not around here. If I’mma fry some chicken I’m tryna enjoy some crunchy-craggies and soaking it in gravy would make that impossible.
Smothered Chicken Ingredients
Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this Smothered Chicken recipe:
- Whole broiler chicken: Broiler chickens are usually around 5 lbs. Look for that weight range. Break that bad boy down into 8 pieces, and then cut the both breasts in two to make 10 pieces. Or you can buy an already cut up chicken, of course. You can remove the skin if you want; I do for the breast pieces and I also debone those, because that’s how I like my Smothered Chicken. I leave the bones and skin alone with every other piece.
- Chicken broth, half-and-half: These two are the liquid components of our gravy. The chicken broth does most of the heavy lifting, but the half-and-half adds creaminess and body. You can substitute whole milk or even heavy cream for the half-and-half. I know because I’ve done it with all three.
- Browning sauce: For color. We don’t use enough to flavor anything. A splash on the chicken, and a splash in the roux. It’s optional, but I like it.
- All-purpose flour: Our thickener. Half of our roux. Self-rising would be fine if that’s all you’ve got on hand.
- Vegetable oil, unsalted butter: We sear the chicken in the butter with a drizzle of oil so it doesn’t burn. Vegetable oil is for the roux.
- Garlic cloves, yellow onion: Our pair of aromatics. I’ve gone the Cajun route and sauted the whole Holy Trinity for this before, but my family tends to like it the very basic Southern way. Sweet onions or white onions would work well here, too. I’d make sure to cook down white onions for a few minutes longer so their flavor is tempered, but that’s up to you. You can always add more garlic if you like.
- Kosher salt, cracked black pepper, celery seed, poultry seasoning, garlic powder: Our seasonings. Poultry seasoning on the chicken – with a splash of browning – and everything else flavors the gravy. I’ve never seen a poultry seasoning without salt in it, but if yours doesn’t you’ll probably want to increase it.
How to Make Smothered Chicken
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of this Smothered Chicken recipe:
- Season the chicken. Add it to a large mixing bowl, and pour in the poultry seasoning and one teaspoon of browning. Use your hands to work the seasoning and sauce into the pieces, then cover and set aside to marinate for half an hour or so. If you want to marinate them for longer you’ll need to transfter the bowl to the fridge, but make sure to pull it half and hour before cooking so the meat cooks evenly.
- Sear it. Place a large pan – I used my Giant Braiser, which holds 6 quarts – with high sides over medium-high heat. Add three tablespoons of unsalted butter along with a drizzle of vegetable oil – no more than a teaspoon or so – and stir them together to coat the surface of the pan. When the butter has completely melted and has started to bubble, add your chicken skin side down in a single layer. Don’t crowd the pan – go in batches if you need to. Sear until well-browned, for about 3-5 minutes, then flip and sear the other side. Once all of the chicken is seared, transfer it to a plate or bowl to rest while you build the roux.
- It’s roux time. Add the remaining butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the diced onion and saute until they’re softened and starting to become translucent – about 7 minutes or so. Then, stir in the minced garlic and let that cook for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the aromatics, give a little stir. You’re not trying to combine the flour with the garlic and onions, just let some of the flour cook a bit. Stir it around as best you can for a couple of minutes. After 3 minutes, or whenever you start to smell the flour cooking, continue on to the next step. Add the remaining vegetable oil to the pan and stir together. I like to switch from a spoon or spatula to a roux whisk – you’ll need to be using a pan safe for metal utensils if you follow suit – to really work them together, but a spatula works fine, too.
- Build the gravy. If you struggle with making gravy don’t fret! Check out the detailed instructions in my recipe post for Hamburger Steaks and Gravy. When the flour and oil have combined into a roux go ahead and add in the remaining browning. This will darken the color without standing over the stove for 15 minutes, stirring, but you can opt to do that instead. Once the roux is a caramel color, go ahead and whisk in 3 cups of chicken broth. Don’t fret if the roux seems to suck it all up and the gravy is thick, it’ll loosen as we add more liquid. After the three cups of chicken broth have been incorporated, whisk in all of the half-and-half. Once you’ve done that, how do you feel about the consistency? If it’s too thick, go ahead and start whisking in the remaining chicken broth about 1/4 of a cup at a time, until you’re happy with it. You can add more than an extra cup if you like super loose gravy. Now, add the celery seed, garlic powder, and black pepper to the gravy. Taste and add kosher salt if needed.
- Smother the chicken. Add the seared chicken back to the pan. Try to submerge all the pieces completely. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes, or until the Smothered Chicken is completely cooked through. Dassit. Enjoy!
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