Help with Smothered Chicken?
I made a Smothered Chicken tonight which had great elements - onions, carrots, mushrooms, a smooth sauce, and the method of cooking the chicken (searing to brown, then adding to vegetables and sauce and covering to cook for 10 minutes) rendered it perfectly tender and juicy. The only problem is that the sauce was made with the sauteed vegetables, chicken broth, fresh thyme and thickened with flour. Great consistency, but somewhat lacking in flavor. Anyone have any suggestions to punch up the flavor?
Basically, I browned the chicken, then removed to a pan. Added olive oil and sauteed onion, carrots and garlic, then added sliced mushrooms. When they began to expel their liquid, added some flour to incorporate, then added chicken broth & fresh thyme to boil. Put the chicken back in, covered and simmered for 10 minutes.
Any suggestions would be appreciated!! THANKS!
Fresh thyme is quite mild. You might want to look at adding a bouquet garni rather than just thyme. Another option would be to start with more vegetables than you would like to have floating around, remove the ones you want to leave in the sauce, and stick-blend the others. It will help to thicken the sauce, allowing you to use less flour (which might be giving off some bland "rawness" if added later on anyhow) and bring out more of the flavors of the vegetables.
You might consider making a roux to start with, rather than adding the flour later on. With those ingredients, rendering out some bacon fat to help begin your roux could really help in enhancing the earthiness of the mushrooms.
I would leave the flour our early, and reduce the sauce down. If it needs thicking after that do so with a roux, cornstarch, or beurre manie.
Many good suggestions. I feel making a roux will help a bit. Also, taste your chicken broth. There is a huge difference in flavor between brands - a homemade stock will have more flavor if that is do-able for you. Letting the liquid cook down a little more will increase the flavor too. A little white wine or lemon juice will help add depth. I have found that sometimes too many (not necessarily number - but intensity of flavor) carrots can reduce the savoriness of some dishes for me. A little salt & pepper should help too!
You might want to start the mushrooms first and get them carmalized a bit before adding the onion, carrots and garlic. Just heat some oil and add the mushrooms in a flat layer, and do not stir until they are browned a bit on the first side, than stir and cook a few more minutes. Also use more onion than you think you should. Onion is a component of the flavor profile. I would probably also add a chopped hot pepper. You could also top with some cheese (swiss, montery jack, etc.) at the end and allow that to melt.
BEST SMOTHERED CHICKEN (IMHO - my old recipe)
(Serves 4, multiplies fine)
3 lbs chicken parts (I use breasts chopped in two)
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
3 cups sliced onion
2 large cloves garlic, pureed
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
1/3 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes
3 cups young red wine (zin, chianti)
1+ cup chicken stock
Parsley for garnish
Beurre manie for sauce (1 ½ tbs each flour and softened butter)
- Dry chicken; brown in hot butter and oil, remove to platter leaving fat in pan
- Saute onions in pan until tender; then raise heat and brown slightly - drain and put aside
- Season chicken with salt and pepper, return to pan, adding the onions, garlic, bay, thyme, tomato and wine. Add stock to barely cover ingredients.
- Bring to simmer; then cover and simmer slowly 20+ minutes
- Remove chicken; boil down liquid and adjust seasoning; then strain into a pan, pressing juices out of ingredients; degrease
- Whisk beurre manie into sauce - should be just thick enough to coat spoon lightly
- Wash out casserole, return chicken and sauce to it - serve.