Left to right: Grace, Alice and Hilda (my grandmother) circa 1938.
Don't the look they The Three Graces?(thanks Wikipedia.org!)
This recipe is one of the perennial favorites in our house.
I have very fond memories of my great aunt Alice making this when we stopped to see her one day. You could just tell she would have made this meal if we were coming or not. A hot meal at lunch time was THAT important to her. We were just stopping in for a visit, but she insisted that we stay for a meal. Well, she earned my eternal admiration when she pulled out all the stops and served up Chicken, Gravy and Biscuits.
She was a truly great lady. She did not believe in dry cleaning. She figured if you couldn't wash it in the washer and dry on the clothes line or in a dryer, it wasn't worth having. I loved her a great deal. She was no nonsense. She baked her biscuits on a cake pan turned upside down. Oh how I loved finding that out!
She also did the New York Times Crossword Puzzle every Sunday...in INK! I actually witnessed her, sitting and working intently until she got the whole thing done. She was so dedicated and did not even look up until she had that think licked. We all just sat around talking while she toiled away.
She was married to Jimmy who was my grandfather's dearest friend. Jimmy was a bit of a troublemaker and a bit of a rabble rouser. He refused to use a map. He believed the compass was good enough. He called my Aunt Alice "Sally."
They were one of those couples that you see walking, and even though they are pushing eighty, they are still holding hands. And they are holding hands because they want to, not because they need to. I love love love those couples.
I can only hope that Mr. Smith and I are lucky enough to end up that way. That is the plan, anyway.
So, here's the deal.
Get yourself some chicken. You can start with raw chicken, if you are feeling terribly industrious. If you don't have much time, or you hate dealing with raw chicken, go get a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. It works just fine and cuts your prep time to virtually nothing.
You can use this method to cook the chicken.
It is so handy and can be done well in advance. Just get some heavy duty foil, put it on a cookie sheet, add some carrots, celery and onion. Peel the carrots, get a few stalks of celery and cut the onion into nice size chunks, nothing fancy. Make a "raft" in the center of the foil. Put the raw, skinless, boneless chicken breasts on top of the vegetables.
Seal up the foil so that you have a nice packet. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You will have some beautiful broth, some nicely steamed veggies and some cooked chicken ready to use in any number of ways.
You can go ahead and use it for Chicken a la King, which I highly recommend you try. Very nice for a large group.
Or you can just cut up the chicken, make yourself some gravy and serve it over biscuits. You can even use the herb biscuit recipe that Emeril used with the Chicken a la King.
This gravy recipe is pretty much fool proof. I have doubled it, I use it for Mr. Smith's Turkey Pot Pie, we have it every Thanksgiving.
It is unfortunately called Zippity Doo Dah Gravy. I didn't name it.
4 Tablespoons margarine
4 Tablespoons flour
2 cups water
2 teaspoons Chicken Better Than Buillion
Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan. Stir the flour in to make a nice roux. Wisk in the water and then add the buillion. Just keep stirring it until it thickens to the consistency that you like. Some people like thicker gravy. My father, heaven help me, likes thin gravy. Don't ask me why.
Once you have your gravy, cut up your chicken and stir it into the gravy. Are you getting hungry yet?
Now all you need is your very favorite baking powder biscuits, baked to perfection.
Split one or two of those babies and spoon the Chicken and Gravy over them.
After you swoon and recover, eat, enjoy and wax poetic about how wonderful simple food can be.
You are welcome!