Monday, January 12, 2015
Nana's Potted Chicken
I hadn't done a family recipe in awhile, so I got out the trusty old recipe box and picked one out that I hadn't made before.
This is an easy stove top recipe for stewed chicken. It comes out real juicy. I remember Nana and then Mom making it during the 70s and 80s. I found quite a number of variations of potted or stewed chicken online, many from the 50s and 60s. My Nana's recipe is decidedly from that time of simple, yet good cooking. It has European origins and as my wise sister pointed out, was probably used as a cost savings dish.
The recipe was passed down to my Mom without any set amounts. Just add as much ingredients as you think would taste good! You'll see with the recipe below. And I just realized that much of Mom and Nana's cooking included the essential chopped onion, sliced carrots, and sliced celery. One may think that this is a bit plebeian or common but in fact, it is the basis for any good solid recipe involving meat or fish. It is often used in braising or in stews.
When I worked at the Ritz-Carlton Philly as one of the purchasers, I learned bits and pieces of cooking techniques from the chefs. He probably doesn't remember it, but Chef Matt, the Garde Manger and banquet chef, taught this annoying twenty-something guy how to make a mirepoix, which is the basis for many recipes in French cooking. Wikipedia defines a mirepoix as a mixture of chopped onions, celery, and carrots, of which there are many variants. It serves as "a flavor base for a wide variety of dishes." Here is the link for the wiki page: mirepoix.
I found it pretty cool that my Nana, a housewife originally from Belorussia, was using the same basic cooking technique as the French.
POTTED CHICKEN by Sarah "Nana" Newman
1. Clean chicken parts well
2. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder
3. Add chopped onion, sliced carrots, and sliced celery
4. Pour on ketchup or tomato sauce - dilute with water (or with chicken stock)
5. Cook on medium for 1 1/2 hours until tender (cover the pot)
A couple of things: One has to remember that this recipe is 50-60 years old. Times were different then, and there was less variety available than today. I would never use ketchup in this recipe but back then, it was perfectly acceptable. I used tomato sauce and chicken stock. But don't judge a recipe solely for it's ingredients. Instead, understand where and when this recipe came from and then try and make some substitutions!
In addition, specifics are not mentioned. It does not say what type of pot to use. I used a large skillet with a lid because I was cooking only chicken breasts tenderloins. But you could use a large stew pot if you are doing many parts of bone-in chicken. Use as much chicken as can fit into a medium or large pot/skillet so that the chicken does not touch the sides of the pan. How much onion, carrots, and celery? Who knows. LOL. I added even amounts of each and it came out great. Check out a similar recipe online or guesstimate it.
For my recipe, I adjusted the cooking time downwards because as I stated before, I used chicken tenders. They cooked up faster than the 1 1/2 hrs. I would say they were done in 40-45 minutes. And this was with me turning down the temperature to simmer and keeping an eye on it. I also used 3/4 a bag of small baby carrots, four stalks of celery, and a medium sized onion. Lastly, I served the meal over brown rice and would have included a picture, but my camera on my phone is a piece of crap. BUT ... it was sooo good and the chicken was sooo tender!