Cooking up a Childhood Memory

Run-Over ChickenRecently my childhood best friend, Connie, reminded me about our favorite lunch from the elementary school cafeteria.  We always called it “runover chicken”, but it was actually creamed chicken over mashed potatoes.  I decided to try to recreate the recipe and move it into the 21st century.  Sometimes capturing a piece of our childhood is more important than gourmet dining!

Heather and Connie - 2004

Heather and Connie share memories during a visit to Ohio.

I hadn’t thought of “runover chicken” in years, but as soon as Connie mentioned it, I could see our lunchroom in my mind and vividly recalled our time spent together there.  Connie generally brought her lunch, but she was always allowed to buy lunch when “runover chicken” was on the menu.  School cafeterias, especially in the heartland of the 1960’s, aren’t known for fine dining, but food doesn’t have to be fancy to trigger strong memories.

Grilled flat chickens in La Manzanilla.

Grilled flat chickens in La Manzanilla.

Since I was making “runover chicken”, I figured it made sense to start with a “flat chicken” – a butterflied and grilled chicken bought at the Pollo Asado stand in La Manzanilla, Mexico.  A rotisserie chicken would be another good choice.

In our 1960’s school cafeteria in Ohio, creamed chicken was served over mashed potatoes.  This mixture is also delicious served over split biscuits or rice for a more traditional Southern meal.

Runover Chicken

Serves 3-4

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup milk or half-and-half
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.  When the veggies are softened, add the flour and cook, stirring, until a roux forms and cooks to a light golden color.  Gradually add the milk and chicken broth, stirring.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens.  Stir in shredded chicken and simmer to warm through.

Remove from the heat and add the white wine vinegar.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Serve the creamed chicken over mashed potatoes, biscuits, toast, or rice.  Sprinkle with minced parsley or paprika to make it pretty, if you wish.  Enjoy and think of your childhood!

Fair winds and following seas,

Heather, The Cruising Cook

“Runover Chicken” Illustrated

The onions and peppers are sweated in olive oil.

The onions, garlic, and peppers are sweated in butter.

The flour is added to the sweated vegetables and oil an cooked.

The flour is added to the sweated vegetables and cooked.

Milk is added to the roux to make the gravy.

Milk is added to the roux to make the gravy.

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