The Mother’s Day Project, Day 1: Smothered Chicken

“A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done.”

~

This year for Mother’s Day I determined that I would do something creative and different. So instead of going out and buying something for my mom, I offered to take care of making dinner for the family for the course of a week. The “gift” was well received, and worked out on more levels than one… not only did it give my mother a bit of a break, but it gave me a very good chunk of blog fodder. So, while I cooked up a storm everyday last week, I will get to share about it everyday this week.

I kicked things off last Monday by fixing a spread that consisted of “smothered” chicken, noodles, butter beans, and sauteed broccoli. For the chicken, I used a recipe from BettyCrocker.com. While not inedible, I would not make it again, at least not the same way. I substituted diluted Worcestershire for the soy sauce that was called for in the gravy. I adore gravy… but this hardly tasted like gravy at all. It was essentially Worcestershire sauce masquerading as gravy. And even though I like Worcestershire sauce, it was a bit much. If I was to do it over again, I would use neither Worcestershire nor soy sauce exclusively, but a bit of chicken bouillon, instead.

The noodles were nothing special. They weren’t cooked properly, which is hardly surprising given my history with cooking pasta. I’m still working on that, to say in the least… The butter beans were half decent. I prepared them in the traditional Southern fashion- with a little milk, flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Hardly gourmet, eh?

The broccoli was probably the best part of the meal. I started with a head of fresh broccoli and blanched it. I had never blanched anything prior to this and, though it’s hardly a difficult process, it just sounds cool and I’m happy to have the experience under my belt.

Brilliant Sauteed Broccoli (from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients:

1 pound broccoli florets

3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl or pot with half ice and half water. When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli florets using a strainer with a handle if possible. Allow the broccoli to cook for 1 to 2 minutes until just tender. Immediately remove from the boiling water, using the strainer or draining, and transfer to bowl of ice to stop the cooking process. Immerse the broccoli completely in the ice water for a minute or two. Remove and place in a dish that has been lined with paper towels. This part can be done up to two days in advance.

In a cup or small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese and brown sugar; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Throw in the broccoli and season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir to coat the broccoli, then cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and dust with the Parmesan cheese mixture.

Yields 6 servings

*

Smothered Chicken (from BettyCrocker.com)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cut-up whole chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)*

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced*

3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces*

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup soy sauce

7 cups hot water

2 teaspoons onion powder

*I left out the pepper and onions and used random pieces of frozen chicken as opposed to a whole bird. And Worcestershire in the stead of soy sauce, as I mentioned already.

Heat oil in deep 12-inch skillet over low heat 5 minutes. Sprinkle chicken with salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper; place in hot skillet. Cover chicken with yellow and green onions.

Cook chicken over medium heat 10 minutes; turn chicken. Cook 10 minutes longer or until golden. Reduce heat to low; cook 5 minutes longer. Turn; cook 5 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet. Place in large pot (Dutch oven); set aside.

Continue heating skillet over low heat. Stir together flour, 1/3 cup of the soy sauce and 4 cups of the hot water in medium bowl with wire whisk or fork until smooth.

Cook flour mixture in hot skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk or fork, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in remaining water, 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until smooth.

Stir in remaining 1/3 cup soy sauce, the onion powder and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Pour gravy over chicken in large pot. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. (Gravy may stick to pot.)

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