Our noses have a way of sniffing out nostalgia.
Smell goes into the emotional parts of the brain and the memory parts, whereas words go into thinking parts of the brain. This could explain why memories sparked by smell feel nostalgic and emotional.
I often say that we didn’t have a lot of food traditions growing up, as in Spaghetti Sunday or Taco Tuesday. However, that does not mean that my mom did not make some of her most tried and true recipes over and over. This was one of them. It was made so often there is no hand-written copy that I know of. I saw something similar in one of her recipe books a month ago and asked her about it. She said no that’s not it, and quoted the recipe I was thinking of from memory. Perhaps the fact that once she made this dish for 100 volunteers solidified the ingredients in her mind for eternity.
As I grew older, the only thing I didn’t love is the canned mushrooms. I love mushrooms. I despise canned mushrooms. The original dish also contained cream of chicken soup. Cream soups are hard to find here for some reason. Only a few years ago did they start selling broth in the boxes like I’m used to back in Canada. The lack of canned goods didn’t deter me, though. Besides, I wanted to create a more homey version of this recipe for health reasons and so that I didn’t have to rely on ingredients that I can’t often find.
I think I did it. And when it came out of the oven at the end, I’m not going to lie, my eyes welled up. The smell of an entire childhood of hospitality came rushing back to my mind. It was overwhelming.
It’s really not fancy or earth shattering. But it is one of those dishes that really comfort me just to think about. My family liked it immediately. It will now become a dish that I too make often.
I hope it becomes that for you.
- 1 whole chicken, divided
- 1/4 cup butter + 5 TAB, divided
- 3 TAB flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter. Starting with skin side down, cook chicken pieces about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer chicken and juices to oven safe dish. Transfer dish to oven and set timer for 20 minutes.
In a small pot, melt 3 TAB butter. Add 3 TAB flour and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes or until thickens. Add milk, chicken broth, white wine, and garlic powder and whisk until slightly thickened, 1 or 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
After 20 minutes of chicken in oven, pour liquid over chicken in oven. Cook for another 20 minutes.
In a large saucepan, melt 2 TAB butter. Cook mushrooms until tender (I like them a little crispy so I don’t overcrowd and wait until they have a golden tint on each side). Add mushrooms to chicken in oven for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
Remove from oven. Let rest 5 minutes.