Basic Smothered Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:



Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

One dish that was very much a part of my Mississippi childhood was dubbed smothered chicken. I suppose it could be regarded as soul food, basic, easy to prepare; in my books, it belongs in the “comfort” category, a food that gives solace to the spirit when you dine on it.

In its most basic form, it consists of cooking a chicken that has been split down the back and opened up, as for broiling. You cook it skin side down in a black iron skillet with a plate on top. The plate is weighted down and it is this method that contributes the name smothered. The chicken is turned over and continues to cook in a flour-thickened gravy until it is exceptionally tender, the meat almost falling from the bones.


  • 1 chicken ( pounds), butterflied (split down the backbone, breast left intact and unsplit)
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • cups Chicken Stock or canned chicken broth


  • A black iron skillet is essential for the authentic preparation of this dish. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Select a skillet large enough to hold the chicken comfortably when it is opened up, as for broiling. Fold the chicken wings under to hold them secure.
  • Melt the butter in the skillet and add the chicken, skin side down. Cover the chicken firmly with a plate that will fit comfortably inside the skillet. Add several weights, approximately 5 pounds, to the top of the plate. Cook over low heat until the skin of the chicken is nicely browned, about 25 minutes. Turn the chicken, skin side up, replace the plate and weights, and continue cooking 15 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the skillet. Add the flour, stirring with a wire whisk. Gradually add the chicken stock, and, when thickened, return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Add salt and pepper. Cover with the plate and weights and continue cooking over low heat about 30 minutes longer, or until the chicken is exceptionally tender. Spoon the sauce over.
  • Cut the chicken into serving pieces, and serve with the sauce and fluffy rice.