Sylvia's Smothered Chicken

Total Time
1hr 20mins
Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr

Posted in response to a request for smothered chicken. The absolute best smothered chicken I have ever had was at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem. I found this recipe on the Web, apparently from a cookbook put out by Sylvia herself.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Trim the excess fat from the chicken pieces and sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper.
  2. Season 2 cups of the flour with the remaining salt and pepper; dredge the chicken in the flour until coated on all sides (shake off any excess flour).
  3. Over medium heat, heat the oil in a heavy deep skillet (cast-iron is best) until the edge of a chicken piece dipped into the oil gives off a lively sizzle.
  4. Add as many chicken pieces into the skillet as you can, but make sure the pieces do not touch.
  5. Fry until the chicken pieces are browned on all sides, about 6 minutes; adjust the heat as necessary during frying to keep a lively sizzle without overbrowning.
  6. Remove the fried chicken to drain and repeat with the remaining pieces.
  7. When all the chicken pieces have been fried, pour off all but 4 tablespoons of drippings from the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions, peppers, and celery to the skillet.
  8. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and tender, about 10 minutes.
  9. Move the vegetables to one side of the skillet and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour over the other side of the skillet; cook the flour until golden brown, stirring constantly--be careful not to let the flour burn.
  10. Slowly pour in the water and stir until the gravy is smooth.
  11. Divide the chicken between two heavy skillets with lids or place them all in a large heavy Dutch oven.
  12. Top with the gravy and vegetables; cover tightly.
  13. Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  14. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.
  15. Serve, spooning some of the gravy and vegetables over each piece of chicken; pass the extra gravy.
Most Helpful

We're just 2 people, so we used 1 chicken, cut everything in half except the ingredients for the gravy, and this was ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!!! My partner kept bugging me to rate this recipe, and he has never done that before. Thanks for sharing.

Alan Leonetti March 28, 2004

Wonderful! However, instead of cutting the chicken into pieces, I cut it in half and removed the fat, back and neck, which I used for chicken stock. When it was time to add the water, I had the chicken stock to use instead of the water, I ate the chicken and gravy with brown rice, green beans and carrots. What a meal!

Stefanie #3 November 05, 2008

I make a recipe similar to this one but I leave out the green peppers and add sliced carrots instead. Yum.

dnaleri May 23, 2004