Last week’s theme at work seemed to be happy, loving families. There are often theme weeks at work–infection week (everyone seems to have some sort of horrendous infection); crabby patient/crabby daughter week (NOT my favorite week); crazy patient/crazy family week (interesting and exhausting); and the ever popular ummm…I think we need to call a rapid response on this patient and send them to ICU week.
So, happy, loving family week is always a beautiful welcome change. I had some wonderful experiences last week watching my patients interact with their families. There was one particular patient who had six children and he absolutely adored them and his wife. Every time I walked into the room I felt as though I was walking in on a tender private moment between either the patient and his wife or the patient and his children. There were lots of hugs and kisses and whispers of “I love you”. At one point the oldest of the children, a girl, was herding up her brothers and sisters to take them all home so that dad could get some rest. As she was leaving, the dad said, “Hey, sis, don’t forget…web cam tonight for scripture study and family prayer.” Though the dad was in the hospital in a fair amount of pain and sporting a brand new hip, he was making sure that things with his family kept as even and regular as possible. Clearly he loved them and cared about them. They were #1 in his life, beyond anything else. I felt almost guilty witnessing such intimacy between family members.
At one point while I was in this particular patient’s room I heard the family greeting someone who had just arrived. I glanced up from my work and caught site of the woman’s face. I knew her! Long story short, we had been neighbors over twenty years ago, but had each gone our separate ways moving across town from each other. We kept in touch at first, but then lost track of each other as people often do. Remember, twenty years ago was back in the olden days before the internet and email and face book and cell phones and texting. Long, long, long time ago. Anyway, one of the first things that she said to me was, “I think of you every time I make Chicken Alabam! I still have the recipe card in your handwriting.”
Now that was a blast from the past. I hadn’t thought about or made Chicken Alabam in, well, about 20 years. I don’t know why I stopped making it (maybe because of the cream?), but now is a good time to bring it back to the table, for old time’s sake and because it tastes so very good.
This recipe is from the Lion House Recipes cookbook and is presented here with a few changes. I used smokey paprika instead of regular paprika (excellent change, by the way). I also used half and half instead of cream. The dry ingredients were doubled, and the lemon juice was increased. The smokey paprika was absolutely wonderful and I don’t want to ever miss using it again.
- 8 pieces chicken, washed and patted dry with paper towels
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground thyme
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons diced pimiento
- Mix the flour, paprika, salt, pepper, and thyme together. Put in gallon-sized plastic bag.
- Add 1 or 2 pieces of chicken to the flour mixture and shake bag to coat chicken. Shake excess flour off of each chicken piece. Reserve the remaining flour mixture.
- Place the chicken in a large lightly greased baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and baste each chicken piece with the butter.
- Place chicken in a 350-degree oven and bake for 30 minutes uncovered.
- While the chicken is cooking prepare the sauce. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium-sized saucepot. Cook onions in the melted butter until nearly translucent.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture from step #1. Stir it well with the onions.
- Pour in the soup stock. Cook and stir until thickened.
- Add half and half; cook and stir until smooth.
- Stir in the lemon juice and the pimiento.
- When chicken has baked for the first 30 minutes, remove from oven and pour sauce over chicken. Cover the chicken and return to oven. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.