Smothering meat is both a Cajun and Creole cooking technique that originated in Louisiana. Smothered pork and chicken are both popular, but it's also possible to prepare vegetables and seafood in this way.
To smother food, you gently cook it in a covered pan with a little liquid added, similar to braising on the stovetop. The meat is browned then broth or another kind of liquid is used to deglaze the pan. The mixture is then simmered until tender. This cooking technique was invented as a way to coax maximum flavor and tenderness out of tougher cuts of meat.
In Louisiana, various meats are smothered, including wild game as well as chicken, pork, duck, beef and rabbit. Vegetables like potato, corn and okra may also be smothered, in which case oil or lard is added to stop them from burning. Alternatively, meat products like andouille sausage or salt pork can be added if you are smothering vegetables. Good sides for such dishes include mashed potatoes, peas, okra, boiled or steamed rice, cornbread and hot rolls.
Where to Enjoy Smothered Dishes
Smothered chicken is a Southern favorite. Head to one of Houston's soul food restaurants such as This Is It, which has been serving the best soul food and smothered pork and chicken since 1959, or Esther's Cajun Cafe & Soul Food where you can enjoy smothered pepper steak or pork chop. If you're in the mood for smothered chicken, though, why not try the following recipe? Bring a touch of traditional Louisiana comfort food into your dining room tonight with this wonderfully authentic recipe, which serves eight people. You'll need about an hour to make it.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 whole raw chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 3 chopped garlic cloves
- 3 cups chopped yellow onions
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Meanwhile, season the chicken with a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in 3/4 cup of the flour. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown it on all sides. Set the chicken aside and drain the skillet, leaving about a tablespoon of fat in there. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the celery, carrots, garlic and onions to the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour and cook for another 5 minutes.
Next go ahead and add the chicken broth, the cayenne pepper and the rest of the salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and turn the heat down to low. Now you can return the chicken to the skillet. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the gravy is thick and the chicken juices run clear. Serve hot with your favorite Southern sides.