My mom had it hard when I was little. My dad was sick, so she had to work and support all of us. Then they got divorced, and she was still supporting herself and me with no help from him. She went back to school at night because her school district paid teachers more if they had a master’s degree.
I don’t know how she managed working, going to school and taking care of me, especially since our house was always in perfect condition. My lunches were packed, and we had homemade meals.
My mom is a master of the quick dinner. She can put together an entrée, vegetable and salad in about a half-hour. Everything comes out at the same time. I’m still not quite sure how she does it. I can make complicated dishes, and I can make a lot of dishes. But I rarely get everything to come together at once.
One of my childhood favorites was creamed chicken, which Mom usually served over waffles. I remember helping make the batter and then being in charge of watching the waffles to make sure they didn’t burn. But I never learned to make creamed chicken. That was always Mom’s job, probably because she didn’t want me near a flame. Also, white sauce requires a little technique, and that’s something I’ve only developed in the past few years.
When I was visiting Mom a couple of weeks ago, I got her to teach me to make creamed chicken. The sauce is a cross between bechamel and veloute, with both milk and chicken broth. The transforming ingredient, however, is paprika. You won’t know it’s there, but if it’s not there, you’ll know something is missing.
We ate it served over whole wheat toast because we’re all old enough now to be watching our calories and fat. But it was just as good as I remembered and remains one of my favorite comfort foods.
Mom’s Creamed Chicken
1/2 pound chicken, cooked, pulled from bone, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in frying pan and stir in flour to form a roux. Stir in milk and keep stirring until butter and flour are blended into the milk and you have a thick sauce. Add the chicken broth, paprika, salt and pepper. Add chicken and cook just long enough for the meat to warm through.
You can serve this over toast or waffles. It makes enough for about 3 people.