I’m not sure what came over me on Sunday, but I woke up with a big craving for a Southern-style Sunday supper. Maybe it was because I had been sick with the flu since New Year’s Day and had eaten very little since, but all I could think about was my great-grandmother’s fried chicken, my mom’s potato salad and my grandmother’s cole slaw.
I know potato salad and cole slaw sound more like a picnic than Sunday supper, but after the holidays I was a little tired of mashed potatoes and green beans. Combined with the sun and warmer temperatures over the weekend, my cravings were tel-ling me something creamy and cool sounded just right.
Fortunately, I had all the necessary ingredients on hand, except for the assorted pieces of chicken. I only had bone-in chicken breasts so I scrapped the idea of fried chicken and decided braising was the better option. Besides, frying chicken is not a skill I’ve mastered or inherited from the ladies in my family. Also, the braising idea gave me the chance to break in one of my Christmas presents — a five quart cast-iron enamelware braising pan.
I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper and my latest favorite — McCormick’s Backyard Brick Oven seasoning. It has a nice mixture of garlic, black pepper, oregano, basil, red pepper, sugar, onion, tomato powder, bell pepper, and paprika.
After adding a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil to the pan and letting it get very hot, I seared both sides of the chicken and added some sliced onions, mushrooms and garlic.
Once everything started to car-amelize I poured in a generous glug of white wine and let it reduce before adding enough broth to almost cover the chicken. Then I put on the lid and put the whole thing in a 325 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
It really is one of the best ways to make chicken and always comes out perfect. If I have thighs or legs those are also great. It may not be my great-grandmother’s fried chicken, but it is a close second.
However, there is no substitute for my mother’s potato salad or my grandmother’s cole slaw. And the batches I made Sunday finally tasted as good as how I remember it as a child. The balance of flavor was perfect and the six medium-sized red potatoes, cut into cubes, were cooked perfectly — not too mushy or undercooked.
The most important step in the recipe happens right after the potatoes are drained. Immediately sprinkle the potatoes with three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and two teaspoons of sugar, toss quickly and then get them into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
While the potatoes were in the freezer, I chopped two hard boiled eggs and 1/3 cup sweet pickles into tiny pieces. When the potatoes came out, the eggs and pickles went in along with a tablespoon of brown mustard, about a 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss everything together and let it chill for a couple of hours. (I leave out the onions and celery.)
For the cole slaw, I combined a bag of shredded cabbage and carrots, 1/4 cup vinegar, two teaspoons of sugar, two to three tablespoons mayonnaise, salt and pepper. For both the potato salad and the cole slaw, I’ve found that going easy on the mayonnaise and adding an extra splash of vinegar really
makes a big difference in the flavor.
The best part was the cole slaw and potato salad tasted even better for lunch the next day, and I had enough chicken leftover to make a chicken salad sandwich with big chunks of chicken, slivered almonds, sliced grapes, a small squirt of honey and a small amount of mayonnaise.
So maybe my Sunday supper is just what I needed to get my energy back and feel like myself again. Of course, a piece of my mother’s blackberry pie would definitely cure every imaginable ailment. Oh well, I will have to wait until summer to satisfy that craving.