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.
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
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.
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.