Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy

Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy

Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy

Virginia Willis' Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy for FoodNetwork.com

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

I love gravy. I really love gravy. I really, really love gravy. I’d like to think that there are rivers of gravy in heaven. Gravy is a down-home comfort food that soothes, satisfies and satiates like no other. And Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy is extra-special. This old-timey recipe is a mash-up of fried chicken and gravy, cooked together in a skillet: Where one ends, the other starts. In other words, pretty much the most nearly perfect comfort food. Ever.

Gravy is not actually created by angels. By definition, it is a thickened sauce made of meat juices and pan drippings, usually left over from a roast or searing meat in a skillet. There are a couple of key things to consider when making Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy.

For best flavor, it’s very important to sear the chicken until it’s golden, amber brown. Not searing it enough will result in flabby skin coated in bland gravy, and too much will result a scorched taste and tough chicken.

Humble leg quarters are tailor-made for this country-style dish. You can also use chicken thighs or chicken breasts on the bone. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may be tempting, but keep in mind that anytime you cook meat on the bone, it is more likely to be tender and moist.

Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy

Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy

Virginia Willis' Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy for FoodNetwork.com

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Roux, a mixture of flour and fat, is used to thicken the gravy. The fat helps the starch to expand and separate, and it lubricates the starch so it can be incorporated into the stock. Then, when the starch is heated in the stock, the grains of starch swell and then burst, releasing starch and thickening the liquid into gravy.

This recipe utilizes the flour used to coat the chicken and the residual oil from searing the chicken as the roux. When the seasoned flour is combined with the oil and the rendered chicken fat from searing, the individual flour granules become coated, which keeps them separate. This allows each starch granule the opportunity to absorb the heated broth relatively equally, which makes smooth gravy.

In terms of seasoning, the onion powder doubles up the onion flavor alongside the sliced onion, and the paprika gives it a boost of color and richness. Lastly, the cayenne gives it a bit of heat. Started on the stovetop and finished in the oven, this down-home comfort dish is perfect for a weeknight supper.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

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Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.

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