Mississippi Smothered Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    4 to 6


Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

I’ve had delicious “smothered” poultry and game in Kentucky and Creole Louisiana, but when it comes to smothered chicken, Mississippians have made almost an art of one technique. Basically, a chicken is split down the back and opened up as if for broiling. It’s then cooked in a iron skillet with several weights on top, turned over, and cooked further in a gravy till the meat is almost falling off the bones. The chicken can either be cooked by itself or enhanced with any number of vegetables and seasonings. Whatever adjustments are made, the technique produces one of the most unusual and toothsome chicken preparations you’ll ever taste. For weights on top of the plate, I use several canned goods or a smaller cast-iron skillet.


  • One -pound chicken, split down the backbone, with the breast left unsplit
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • ½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 16 very small white onions, peeled and scored on the root ends
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves


Season the chicken with salt and pepper and fold the wings under to hold them secure.

In a large cast-iron skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over low heat, add the chicken, skin side down, cover firmly with a heavy plate that fits inside the skillet, and add several weights (such as canned goods) to top of the plate. Cook 25 minutes. Pour off most of the fat from the skillet and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Turn the chicken skin side up and scatter the mushrooms and onions over and around the chicken. Add the wine, broth, bay leaf, thyme, and garlic, replace the plate and weights on top, and continue cooking, over low heat, 45 minutes longer or till the chicken is very tender.

Transfer the chicken to a warm platter and spoon the mushrooms and onions over the top. Cook until the liquid in the skillet is reduced by half, pour over the chicken and vegetables, and sprinkle parsley on top.