Southern smothered chicken is a popular Southern comfort food. If you're from the South, you might have grown up eating this dish on Sundays as the special meal of the week.
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This supper recipe has a rich, homemade gravy, which is made from the fat drippings after the meat has been browned. I've used stock to make the gravy, but if you'd like a white gravy, you can also add in milk.
Traditionally, this dish is made in a large cast iron skillet on top of the stove. Some cooks say it improves the flavor, but I'll let you be the judge.
Is Southern Smothered Chicken fried?
Yes, and no. It is dredged in flour and browned in fat or butter, but then it finishes cooking in a homemade gravy.
What goes with this main course dish?
Since this recipe makes a gravy, two good choices to serve this with would be mashed potatoes or rice. I personally like to serve it with a slice of crusty buttered bread to sop up the gravy. Yum! Green beans and fresh tomato wedges would also be easy side dishes to round out your meal.
How many calories are in this recipe?
First of all, this is comfort food. It's known for how tasty it is, and not for being a low calorie dish.
But for readers who are counting their calories, one piece of chicken is 410 calories. You can find out more about the nutrition facts for this recipe if you scroll down past the recipe.
Can you make this ahead of time?
Yes, you can, but make sure to make a lot of gravy. Like many recipes, it tastes best when it's freshly made, but if time is tight, make it earlier in the day.
Can I freeze this dish?
Absolutely! If you have any leftovers, let the chicken cool completely and place in an airtight container or a freezer friendly zip top bag.
It can be frozen for up to 1 month. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a cast iron skillet on the stove top over medium low heat until warmed through.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Chop up the onion and celery, then mince the garlic. Place in glass prep bowls for ease.
Rinse the chicken pieces in cold water, then pat dry with paper towels.
Place the flour and seasonings in an 8x8-inch pan, then stir until well mixed.
Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and shake off any extra flour. Reserve ½ cup of flour for making the roux.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat in two 10-inch cast iron skillets. Add 6 or 7 pieces of meat to each skillet, making sure the pieces don't touch each other.
After a few minutes, turn the heat down to medium low to prevent the skin from burning. Brown the pieces of meat for 5 minutes each side.
Carefully turn the pieces over to prevent the skin from falling off.
Drain the meat on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet.
Leave 4 tablespoons of fat in each skillet. If you don't have enough fat, add salted butter.
Add the divided onion and celery to each skillet, then turn the heat to medium high. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Sauté the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly.
Lower the heat to medium, add 3 tablespoons of the reserved flour to each skillet and stir it in to the vegetables.
Cook the flour and veggies for a minute, then slowly add the 1 ½ cup of broth to each skillet, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps.
Cook the gravy for a couple of minutes, until thickened.
Add the browned meat pieces back to the skillets and coat each piece with the onion gravy.
Add the fresh thyme sprigs and the fresh sage leaves to each skillet.
Cover the skillets with lids or foil to speed up the cooking time and to prevent the gravy from reducing.
Cook the chicken over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. If necessary, remove the meat and add the reserved stock to have more gravy.
Carefully flip each piece over, cover and cook for another 20 minutes. Depending on how brown the meat is getting, you may need to reduce the temperature just a bit if you're not using a cast iron skillet.
Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It should read 165 F when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.
Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve the meat and gravy hot or warm. Enjoy this dish with rice, mashed potatoes, or crusty bread to help you eat up the gravy.
- Want a white gravy? Add 1 cup of milk after the gravy has cooked for two minutes, then cook for three minutes.
- Want more vegetables? Add green pepper and carrots with the celery and onions.
- Want other spices? Try garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika.
- Want some other add ins? Try crumbled bacon and sautéed mushrooms.
- Want a different garnish? Substitute fresh chopped parsley for the fresh thyme leaves.
- Want a golden brown color? Use a cast iron skillet. It has even heat distribution.
- Check halfway through cooking to make sure the gravy isn't evaporating.
- Add fresh herbs when the meat is simmering in the gravy.
- For the best flavor, use bone in, skin on chicken pieces.
- Cast Iron Skillet: one of the best kinds of cookware you'll own.
- Pyrex Measuring Cup: a durable measuring cup with a pouring spout.
- Balloon Whisks: this is a set of sturdy metal whisks in three convenient sizes.
- Aluminum Foil: don't have a lid for your cast iron? Use foil instead.
Here's some other delicious Southern food your family will love to round out this meal.
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Southern smothered chicken with homemade gravy is a popular low carb comfort food served in the South. Traditionally made in a cast iron skillet, it will quickly become a family dinner favorite. Use drumsticks, thighs, or backs to make this simple meal idea.
- 13 chicken pieces with skin (5 backs and 8 drumsticks)
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (180g)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided between two skillets (57g)
- 4 cups yellow onion, diced (roughly 3 large onions) (576g)
- 1 cup celery, diced (123g)
- 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 4 cups chicken stock (reserve 1 cup) (946 ml)
- 12 thyme sprigs, divided between two skillets
- 6 sage leaves, divided between two skillets
- 4 thyme sprigs, for garnish
- Chop the onions and celery, then mince the garlic. Set aside.
- Rinse the chicken pieces in cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Set aside on two large plates.
- Mix together the flour and seasonings in an 8x8-inch pan. Coat each chicken piece in the flour mixture. Reserve ½ cup (60g) of the leftover flour for making the roux.
- Melt the butter in two large skillets over medium high heat. Place 6 or 7 pieces of coated chicken in each skillet, making sure they aren't touching.
- Brown the chicken by cooking it for 5 minutes per side, until the skin is golden brown. After a couple of minutes of cooking, turn down the heat to medium low. Drain the chicken on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet.
- Pour the fat from the two skillets into a bowl, then add 2 tablespoons back into each skillet.
- Divide the onion and celery between the two skillets, then turn to medium high heat. Sprinkle the vegetables with kosher salt and black pepper and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add 3 tablespoons of the reserved flour mixture to each skillet to create a roux. Whisk the flour with the fat and vegetables and cook for a minute. Slowly add 1 ½ cups (354 ml) of chicken broth to each skillet, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Cook the gravy for two minutes, until thickened. (If you want more gravy, double it now.)
- Add the browned chicken pieces back to the skillets and coat each piece with the gravy. Top with the fresh thyme and fresh sage. Cover the skillets with lids or aluminum foil to speed up the cooking time and to prevent the gravy from reducing.
- Cook over medium low heat for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Turn the chicken after 20 minutes of cooking. If necessary, add ½ cup chicken stock to each skillet to create more gravy. The meat thermometer should read 165 F when inserted into the thickest part of the meat. If you prefer, you can place your covered cast iron skillet in a 350F oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh thyme leaves. Serve warm over rice, mashed potatoes, or with a crusty bread to sop up the gravy.
- When the meat is simmering in the gravy, add fresh herbs.
- Use bone in, skin on chicken pieces for the best flavor.
- Use a cast iron skillet for golden brown color since it has even heat distribution.
- Make sure your gravy isn't evaporating, check halfway through cooking.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: southern, soul food
This post was originally published on April 13, 2018.