Comfort food is defined as “German or Danish” for me, because those were my maternal grandparents’ comfort foods: whole milk, cream, butter, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, lots of noodles with heavy creamy sauces, coffeecakes, homemade cookies, thick soups. Oh, and box food from the 1950s. Mac and cheese, creamed chipped beef on toast (with added canned peas), that string bean casserole with canned mushroom soup and fried onions out of a canister. And … Ya Motha’s Chicken.
My husband named it. I don’t think my mother had a name for it. My mother learned how to cook everything she could cook well from people her family met while towing their Airstream trailer through Appalachia. If it involved pork and corn, she could cook it. But Ya Motha’s Chicken was our family favorite, and it is definitely Smoky Mountain fare.
Shake chicken pieces in a bag with some flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Fry ‘em on medium heat in a heavy cast iron pot in a goodish amount of butter (four tablespoons at least) until blood comes out of the ends of the severed joints, about 15 minutes, turning to brown both sides. Remove the chicken long enough to put a rack on the bottom of the pan, put the chicken back in, toss in a cup of water and immediately cover to keep the steam in. Cook covered on the stovetop 30 minutes longer. Remove chicken and rack and add some flour to make a roux. Add milk and cook until it doesn’t taste like flour or milk. Mom always added some chopped chicken liver in with the flour and milk, but some people don’t like the liver bits.
Serve this with mashed potatoes AND bread. Or it isn’t really comfort food.