First is the voice of my daughter, Annie. Or Kate. Or Libby. All of them can imitate Robert Morse in the Musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, but Annie is the best. She can make the word vibrate, a sort of vibrato on steroids… Rossse-maaaa-rrrryyyy…each syllable owning its own descending pitch. It makes me chuckle to think of it, and really makes me miss Annie, up there in that far away Spokane-place with my two little munchkins. (Come home, Annnn-ieee.)
(warning: I can't control the ad that plays before this clip.)Second, and less endearing but still delicious, is Chicken in the Pot. It’s probably the only reason I grow rosemary. Or, as the case may be, “grew” rosemary. My nice healthy rosemary bush gave up the ghost in the wicked winter of two years ago. No worries though, I harvested a gallon Ziploc bag of rosemary leaves, which should make about two decades of Chicken in the Pot. This is the only recipe I regularly use that calls for rosemary.
Mom Connors owned this dish. I can close my eyes and instantly recall the first time I inhaled the aroma of Chicken in the Pot. I had finished a long, sweaty day in the Clairton Works steel mill, cutting tar off the jambs of 20 foot tall coke ovens, shoveling coal over the rail and into waiting railroad cars, hosing down fiery oven doors when they were pulled off with their massive machines. You might recognize the smell of coke ovens cooking up coal. It fits in the same category as old hard boiled eggs, or the sulfur pots on the north side of Salt Lake City. Yeah. So walking into the kitchen of Helen Connors when she has a batch of Chicken in the Pot simmering on the stove? Talk about redemption! Maybe Dave’s mom and dad moved to Pittsburgh not so much for the nuclear physics genius of Don Connors as the ability Helen had to counterbalance the stench of the city of steel.
Rosemary and white wine and good old butter are key in this recipe, so be sure you have those things on hand. And fresh chicken. Whole, cut up chicken. If you have more people who like white meat, then get some extra breasts, but be sure your chicken has the skin on it. None of that boneless stuff. You’ll need the flavor of the skin nicely browned in hot butter, even if you choose not to eat it. Oh, and those little celery flakes, from the center of a stalk of celery, the part some people throw away. Keep ‘em in a baggie in your fridge. They are essential in this recipe, and in all kinds of soups. I’ll add extra liquid sometimes, because the juices in this recipe, mashed into those potatoes on your plate…. Mmmm.
CHICKEN IN THE POT
(Made on top of stove) Grandma Connors
allow 2 hours to prepare
Brown 2-3 lb. chicken parts (cleaned in cold water) in one stick of melted butter (use a heavy fry pan for this). Remove chicken when skin is golden. Put chicken in heavy saucepan. Scrape the fry pan with butter and drippings and add:
½ c. white cooking wine
½ c. water or chicken broth
2 T chicken bouillon
1 t. salt
Scrape pan again and pour this sauce over the chicken. Cover and simmer (low boil) about 30 mins. Meanwhile peel and cut in large chunks:
1 lb. carrots (maybe 10) peeled and cut into chunks, or use a bag of baby carrots
1 large onion, cut in quarters
1 T. celery flakes, or the small leaves from the inside of a bunch of celery
1 t. rosemary leaves
4 or 5 russet potatoes (brown skinned ones) peeled and quartered
Cover and simmer about 45 mins. to 1 hour (check to make sure spuds and carrots are fully cooked.) Baste while cooking, meaning spoon sauce over top of everything once in a while.
Spoon broth over chicken and veggies when serving.