Creamy, smothered chicken. (Photo: Shawanda Mason)

I really love Oprah Winfrey. I know that’s a random way to start a food column, but it’s true. I vividly remember when her talk show would come on at 4 p.m. every day; I loved seeing who she’d have on and what subjects she’d cover. When I was younger, I wrote a letter to Harpo Productions in Chicago to ask if Oprah would come to my school to speak. The answer was obviously no, but I got a really nice letter back from the production company. I held on to that letter for years. You must be wondering why I’m having so much to say about Oprah, so I’ll explain.


  • 2 (3-pound) chicken fryers (or chicken thighs)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
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  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 lb button mushrooms, optional (I did not use mushrooms)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock


Today’s recipe is from one of Oprah’s most recent cookbooks, called “Food, Health and Happiness.” This cookbook is thick and full of flavorful recipes. Some of the recipes require a bit of culinary experience, but most of them do not. I’ve enjoyed “Food, Health and Happiness” so much that I included it on a list of must-have items for the summer. Today’s recipe is a down-home smothered chicken dish, and—even better—it’s a Maya Angelou recipe. Did you know Angelou was not only a brilliant poet but a really great cook, too? This smothered chicken recipe definitely reminds me of something I would have eaten at my grandmother’s house on a Sunday evening. Let’s eat.

Maya Angelou's smothered chicken served with steamed broccoli and rice. (Photo: Shawanda Mason)

Place the chicken in a bowl. Add lemon juice and enough water to cover the chicken. Refrigerate for an hour.

Melt butter and oil in a large skillet over high heat.

Drain the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels, and season it with salt and pepper. Place three-fourths cup of flour in a shallow bowl, and in batches, dredge the chicken in the flour. Be sure to shake off any excess flour.

Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until the skin is browned and crisp—about five minutes on each side. Place chicken on a plate when done.

Measure out a quarter-cup of the fat from the pan and pour it into a large skillet. Heat over medium heat, then add the remaining quarter-cup of flour and cook, stirring constantly. The flour should turn into a light brown roux after about five minutes. Add in the onions, mushrooms (if using) and garlic. Stir constantly and cook until the onions have softened a bit (about 10 minutes).

Return the chicken to the pan, then add the chicken stock. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Throughout those 25 minutes, stir the mixture often, making sure to get any flavor bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Season with salt and pepper, and serve. Your house will smell so yummy.

Smothered chicken recipe from Oprah Winfrey's latest cookbook. (Photo: Shawanda Mason)

Shawanda Mason is the creator and blogger of Eat.Drink.Frolic. For recipe questions or to chat about eating, drinking or frolicking, she can be reached at [email protected] or by following her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not or its employees.