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Nana's Chicken

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After looking at the spruced-up former home of my grandparents on Sunday, Larry and I spent time laughing about our memories of her. "Nana" was short, round, and could hold on to a political issue or a blouse on sale at Filene's with equal tenacity. She studied journalism at Boston University as a young woman, took care of her ill mother, married and had four children, helped out at my grandfather's doughnut shop until he fired her, lived for her family and Hadassah (the Jewish women's organization), and apologized for everything that came out of her kitchen. "I don't know about that steak-- the butcher told me it was tender, but it doesn't look good" she'd say about the expensive cut of meat she had broiled into a charred piece of leather. "I don't know about those lemon bars, I think something's wrong with the oven" as she brought out her sweet and tart lemon bar cookies. Her cooking technique was legendary in the family--cook everything till it was "tendah." (delivered in a strong Boston accent that pulled the "r" off the ends of words and deposited them elsewhere)

Luckily, it worked for most of what she made--thick soups, hearty kugels, brisket, sturdy bars and cookies, and chicken with vegetables. (I prefer to not remember what she could do to asparagus) She didn't consider dinner a dinner without chicken, and you were not allowed to leave without a tupperware container going home with you. She cooked the chicken with a few vegetables in a clay casserole, tightly covered so the chicken would bathe in its own juices. So simple it doesn't really need a recipe. I wanted to recreate that chicken, but give it just a bit of updating.

Nana's Chicken

1 kosher chicken, cut up (a kosher chicken will have an intense "chickeny" flavor from the salting process. If you don't use a kosher chicken, brine your chicken for a few hours)
6 carrots, thickly sliced
3 stalks celery, thickly sliced
1 onion or 4 shallots, thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
pinch dried thyme
few sprigs parsley
bay leaf

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Pull most of the skin off the chicken. Heat some oil in a large skillet over high heat, and sear the chicken pieces to a light golden. Remove from the skillet, and put the chicken into a large pot or casserole that has a cover. Put the vegetables into the skillet, and saute till the edges begin to turn golden. Put the vegetables in with the chicken. Pour in the broth, wine, and herbs, and stir everything.

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Bring to the boil. Cover tightly, and bake in a preheated 325 oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until chicken is falling off the bone. Serve over mashed potatoes, noodles or rice to catch the heavenly juices.

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Comments (11)

Kim:

Mmmm.....I love a good chicken (kids and Chris not so much) but I think I may give this a try next week!

Your grandmother was a beautiful woman. That chicken looks pretty good, too. :grin:

Amy, your grandma was a beautiful woman. I think she had a good strategy for cooking, until is tendah, is what I do if I am not sure what is going on!
This does look good.

sheri:

Nice tribute to Nana, Amy. Makes me think of my grandmother who was very special!

Karen Schiff Dines:

Ah yes, your grandmother was a beautiful woman, but did you ever see veggies look that bright in color?
Waiting for the date ball recipe.

Barb Cabot:

Gosh your prep work is beautifully presented. Nana's goodness lives on. She'd be proud of you.

Your grandmother was beautiful! I initially thought this post was going to be about how your grandmother raised chickens or perhaps had a chicken as a pet! Her chicken looks so delicious! I am glad you have her recipe.

My grandmother also cooked her chicken tendah. I wish I paid attention when she made chicken soup. She always made it for me whenever I was sick. It was may favorite and like comfort food for me.

Amy:

Karen, I'll bet I have her date ball recipe around somewhere. I'll look. And yes, she'd tell me I put too many carrots in, and Grandpa would complain about the onions. (which she snuck into everything, ignoring his complaints)

Who would we be without our beloved grandmothers? Lovely tribute to a lovely woman...thanks for sharing her with us!

Marcia:

Amy,
I don't know which I love more in this story, your Nana or her chicken - thanks for much for both.

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