When I was little I was lucky enough to spend much of my time with a lovely woman named Jewell. She spoiled me outrageously. She was many wonderful things but most of my memories center around her cooking. Her food was straightforward, bursting with flavor and, by today’s standards, extremely healthy. When she and my mother worked on a recipe, magic happened.
I have finally come to realize I’ll never have scrambled eggs as good as Jewell’s because hers were saturated with love and memories of a happy childhood.
In my twenties I fell in love with cooking. By that time Jewell was blind from diabetes. We sent recorded letters back and forth. She told me tales of my childhood … one memorable one when I was about 3 yrs old involved her telling me to go get dressed for a walk. I returned ready to go but all I had on was my cowgirl hat, my boots and my six shooter. Needless to say, I was not let out the door.
Jewell’s chicken recipe is straight from her taped reminiscences.
4 chicken thighs
1c all purpose flour
1½ t salt
½ t pepper
1½ t smoked paprika, (use plain paprika if you have to)
3T canola oil
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary cut in half, or 1T dried rosemary
3/4c chicken stock
1/4c white wine
A 12” skillet that can go into the oven (black iron, if you have it), measuring spoons, a bag
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Wash and dry the chicken thighs. Make sure you get them really dry. Put the flour in a baggie and with salt, pepper and paprika. Place the chicken in the flour bag one at a time and shake then remove to a plate.
Add the canola oil to your skillet and heat to medium high. The oil is hot enough when you begin to see smoke rising from the surface. I used to put a matchstick in the oil. When it lit, which it does briefly, the oil was ready.
Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil and brown on both sides. I use a splash guard whenever I fry something. It keeps the kitchen from becoming a mess.
When the chicken pieces are well browned on all sides, remove the chicken from the skillet and pour off the oil that remains in the skillet. If there are any burned pieces in the pan, wipe them out. Put the chicken back in the pan on medium high heat and pour in the chicken stock and the wine. Add the sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
If you want to make a sauce from the drippings, take the chicken out and put it on a warm platter. Put the pan back on the burner over a medium high heat. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the good bits (if any have burned, scoop them out). Reduce the liquid to half. Once the liquid reduces, add 4T of chilled butter in small pieces, whisking all the time. Add more stock or wine to get the proper consistency for a sauce. I’ve played around adding sauteed mushrooms and a splash of port for fun too. Taste the sauce to make sure you have added enough salt and pepper.