This is sooo good and sooo economical. Talk about comfort food!
Traditionally, "smothered" anything, meat, poultry or vegetables are served with (and often cooked in) a heavy flour-thickened gray. Here the chicken is cooked in it's own juices, with plenty of thyme, onions and butter. No water or stock is added, so both chicken and sauce are lighter and more intensely flavored. Delicious served over stone-ground grits or rice.
4 chicken legs, 4 thighs and 4 wings, brined for 8-12 hours (see note)
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme (dried will give a more intense flavor than fresh)
4 tablespoons (1/2-stick) unsalted butter
3 large onions, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch wedges
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Rinse the chicken pieces, and dry them thoroughly with paper towel. Sprinkle the chicken all over with the pepper and thyme. Heat the butter in a large covered skillet or Dutch oven until hot and foaming. Put the chicken pieces, skin side down, into the pan, and cook over moderately high heat until the chicken is a rich golden brown. Turn the pieces as needed until they are golden brown all over.
Remove the chicken from the pan. Immediately toss the sliced onions into the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the onions become limp and translucent. Use a wooden spoon to dislodge from the bottom of the pan any browned bits left from cooking the chicken. Add the garlic, bay leaf, salt, and pepper, stir well to distribute the seasonings, and cook for 5 minutes longer. Return to the pan the browned chicken pieces and any juices they have given off while resting. Bury them in the onions and cover. Cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours, until the chicken is fork-tender. Serve hot.
Note: For brine, stir kosher salt into cold water until dissolved, in the proportion of 1/4 cup of salt to 1 quart water. (Don't use table salt in this formula, it will be too salty). Mix enough brine to cover the chicken in a (non reactive) bowl or pot. Store refrigerated for the times specified in recipe