In The Kitchen: Recipe winner learned from mom

There is a familiar name on page 15 of the Wal-Mart Family Cookbook now on sale at Alcoa and Maryville Wal-Mart stores.

Tom Hudspeth of Maryville is not only familiar to people in Blount County, he is familiar to the annual cookbook contest judges as well. For seven years, Wal-Mart has invited their associates nationwide to share recipes, picking the best ones for an annual cookbook. This is the third time Tom has won and had his recipes published. Tom works at the Alcoa Wal-Mart.

Tom said he got his love of cooking by watching and helping his mother cook when he was a child in Louisiana. Born in Church Point and raised in Amite, Tom lived there until moving to Baton Rouge, where he met and married his wife, Kathy. He moved to Maryville 14 years ago and has worked for Wal-Mart for 22 years.

When Tom was young he spent a lot of time outdoors, playing in the woods and in the canal near his home, he said. When it rained, however, he had no other choice but to stay inside, and Tom found himself planted beside his mother, watching and helping and learning how to cook.

His mom made cooking and learning to cook fun, Tom said, and he really enjoyed the time he shared with her. She passed away at the age of 40, while Tom was still in pharmacy school.

Tom admits to a Southern menu when picking his favorite meal. “Chicken, mashed potatoes and apple pie,” he said quickly.

Tom also loves Cajun cooking, but considers chicken a treat. When he was a boy, his father didn’t care for chicken because he had been a chicken farmer. Tom’s previous two winners were Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya in 2005 and Cajun Rice Breakfast in 2007.

His winning recipe, Chicken Fricassee, combines a little spice with chicken, plus a nod to his Louisiana heritage with rice.

Tom said that when he was growing up, rice was served with almost every meal. If there were leftovers after the evening meal, his mom would make the Cajun Rice Breakfast, which included already cooked rice, sautéed onion, bell peppers, chives, shrimp, sausage or crawfish, mixed with eggs.

The Wal-Mart Family Cookbook sells for $4.96.

Chicken Fricassee

2 tbsp. Crisco vegetable oil

8 medium chicken breast halves

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1 can (28 oz.) Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes

1/3 cup water

1/2 to 1 teaspoon McCormack’s California Style minced garlic

1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 cups Mahatma White Rice, cooked

Heat oil in 5-quart Dutch oven. Cook chicken, half at a time, over moderately high heat until evenly browned, turning frequently. Remove chicken, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet.

Add bell pepper, onion and half the green onions to drippings in Dutch oven. Cook and stir until tender. Stir in tomatoes, water, garlic, black pepper, salt and red pepper.

Return chicken to Dutch oven. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions. Serve chicken over rice and sprinkle with remaining green onions.

Serves 8.

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