Mama's Chicken and Potatoes

My mom had a wonderful way of welcoming me home after school, with a home-cooked meal, a cake or cookies in the oven, and show tunes on the stereo.  Tonight, it was cold outside, with another forecast of snow after midnight, and Tommy was home for dinner (rare treat). I thought this was as good a night as any to make Mama’s Chicken.


2 tbsp. vegetable or Canola oil
1 4-lb chicken, cut into pieces with bone in. 
1 lb. carrots, cut on diagonal, about 2” in length. (Halve larger ends so all carrots are about same size for even cooking.)
2 medium onions, sliced
4-6 small-medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, skins on, cut into approx. 2” x 2” pieces
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Good Hungarian paprika, to taste (about ½ tsp. all together)


1. Heat oil in large deep skillet
2. Arrange chicken pieces, skin side down

3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika
4. Brown and turn, repeat steps 1-3

5. After both sides of chicken are browned, layer carrots, onions and potatoes on top of chicken.

6. Add ½ cup hot water to edges of skillet
7. Cover; let simmer for 15 minutes.
8. After 15 minutes, stir all, making sure that liquid covers the vegetables
9. Add more water as needed.
10. Cover and let simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked and all liquid is dissolved.

Serve with a salad and/or green vegetable, such as broccoli or peas. 

Rustic Split Pea Soup for a Snowy Day

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that says "snow day" more to me than a hot and hearty bowl of pea soup.  We woke up this morning to two inches of snow covered by a 1/2 inch of ice. The front door was frozen shut and sleet and freezing rain were falling.  Seemed like a perfect opportunity to break out the split peas, plus a ham hock I had in the freezer, for a pot of soup ... the rustic way.

Usually, I make pea soup by dicing the veggies into little bits, but today I wanted something more hearty, and cut the celery, onion and carrots into big chunks, and even left the potato skins on the potatoes.    It all combined to make a spectacular rustic pea soup, just big enough to warm up a nasty day like today.


6-8 cups cold water
16 oz. dried split green peas, washed
1 smoked ham hock
1/2 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, rough chopped with skins on
12 oz. organic baby carrots, rough chopped, in half or in thirds
1 cup celery, rough chopped, about 1" long, with some leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley (or 2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. oregano
1 cup chicken broth (substitute: one chicken bouillon cube)
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
Croutons, sour cream and/or Greek yogurt for garnish

Combine water, peas and ham hock in Dutch oven.

Bring to simmer on high heat, and skim off any residue or scum that rises to the top. Discard.

When broth is clear, add onion, potatoes, carrots, celery, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, parsley and chicken broth. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.


Allow to simmer on low heat for 1-2 hours, partially covered (tip cover of pot to allow some steam to escape), checking every ½ hour to skim off additional white residue that rises to the top or on the edges.  Remove ham hock and chop ham from bone, return ham to soup. Discard bone.  Serve with crunchy croutons and optional garnishes (below).

Optional garnish: A spoonful of sour cream or Greek yogurt.
Variation: 2 tbsp. curry powder, 1 tsp. tumeric, 2 tsp. tomato paste, and 1 tsp. cumin.  Makes a delightful curried split pea soup.
For vegetarian version, leave out ham hock and chicken broth, substitute with two cups of vegetable broth.