Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sharing our Family Recipe for Grandma Nellie's Chicken

When I married my husband Dan, I not only joined a warm and loving family, but I became privy to the heritage that he and his relatives shared. I got earfuls of family lore and albums of photographs of long dead ancestors posing with their town baseball teams, classmates and in one case, a taxidermied ostrich! (that was some strange photography studio where that shot was taken). I inherited cool cousins that were of my same vintage to go to softball games with and carouse.

And then there were the wonderful new-to-me things that my new extended clan ate: New England-y classics like scalloped oysters and baked beans, fresh garden peas (they are a different species than the canned and frozen peas my family was used to), manly delights that Dan's father made in his newfound gourmet phase of his retirement like Veal and Peppers and fork-tender barbecued chicken slathered with his famous, long-simmered barbecue sauce.

One of the family classics was Grandma Nellie's Chicken, a favorite handed down from the Irish side of the family. It's a simply seasoned baked chicken casserole covered over with sliced potatoes, celery and green peppers and is always a hit with our family and friends.The chicken gets tender and moist in its olive oil and butter basting and the vegetables roast down to make a fantastically tasty "gravy". All you need is a salad on the side and some rice to soak up the luscious chicken and vegetable juices and your meal is complete.

I usually add in fresh herbs (dill and thyme are good)  when I make this dish, and sometimes I add in sliced mushrooms if they are threatening to turn brown from too much time in the fridge, but I don't tweak this dish too much because I imagine its creator shaking her rolling pin down at me from On High and muttering about the cheekiness of the interloper that is trying to change up a classic recipe that doesn't need any gussying up.

Here then, is a great chicken recipe from the Crispy Cook heirloom recipe vault:

Grandma Nellie's Chicken

4 chicken breast halves, cut in half across the muscle (leave skin on)
5 potatoes, peeled and thick sliced
3 onions, sliced
4-5 sliced red and green peppers
5 stalks celery, sliced
 1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp. soft butter

Grease a 9x13 glass baking dish. Place chicken inside, skin side up. Layer potatoes, onions, peppers and celery in a mound over chicken. Dab on softened butter and drizzle with olive oil.

Season with salt, pepper and paprika to taste.

Bake 1-1/2 hours at 400 degrees F., stirring at least twice to get the chicken pieces evenly browned and to keep vegetables from sticking.

Serves 6-8.

This recipe also works well with chicken thighs or a cut up whole chicken, but be sure to keep checking the chicken pieces for doneness and adjust cooking times accordingly.

I am sending this recipe over to Weekend Cooking, a weekly roundup of food blog posts at Beth Fish Reads. You'll find lots of other recipes, cookbook reviews, and other delicious posts by the other contributors at this weekly blog event.


jama said...

Thanks for sharing this family favorite -- looks simple, wholesome and delish!

Beth F said...

Ha!! I know what you mean about not messing with tradition. My husband is always thrown off when I tweak one of his mother's recipes. This looks simple and delicious.

Unknown said...

I love hearing about family food traditions. It's amazing, sometimes, how many generations back a family tradition goes.

Anonymous said...

I love that you shared a family favorite. It looks wonderful.

Rachel said...

Thanks everyone, for your kind comments. I kinda think Grandma Nellie would be proud.

This is a simple dish, but so luscious. The flavors of everything slow cooks together and makes its own sauce. Do try it.

JoAnn said...

Old family favorites are always the best - thanks for sharing this recipe!

Carole said...

How lovely to feature your grandmother's dish. Cheers from Carole's CHatter

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

What a treasure to have this family recipe! Looks delicious.

Shelleyrae said...

Sounds like a simple yet delicious family meal - thanks for sharing it

Debra Eliotseats said...

I love simple ands delicious family recipes like this. Like the tweaks you mentioned, too.

Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice said...

Such a classic, and easy to switch up with little variations--thanks for sharing!

Teddyree said...

Family recipes like this are the best. So many memories and this one looks delicious!!

Couscous & Consciousness said...

It's easy to see how this got to be a family favourite - reckon it could become a favourite around here too.