Neena’s Company Chicken

Have I told you about Neena? Neena is my mom. Neena is what all of her grandchildren call her. It started when my daughter, L, was a baby and tried to say her name but it came out sounding like Nee-Nah. And she’s been Neena ever since.

Neena is a fabulous cook and southern cuisine is her specialty. I swear, the woman can whip up the fanciest dinner you ever saw out of whatever is in her pantry and freezer at any time.  It’s kind of amazing. Really.

This dish, like so many wonderful recipes, came about out of necessity. The necessity of substituting an ingredient called for in a recipe with something you have on hand. I’m sure most everyone has had the classic “Company Chicken” recipe that calls for lining the baking dish with chipped beef, right? Well, Neena started making that recipe one day only to find at the last minute that she had no chipped beef on hand. Did she run out to the grocery store for that one ingredient? Why, of course not! She substituted what she had available and, let me tell you something, the result was incredible. What she used in place of the chipped beef was country ham! That’s right, good old-fashioned salty country ham.

If you’re not familiar with country ham, please understand that it is very different from any other type of ham. Country ham is salt-cured and sometimes smoked. The curing-smoking process gives it a deep red color. It’s usually sold unrefrigerated (no refrigeration needed because of the curing process), and often served inside a hot, buttered biscuit. I think it compares closely to prosciutto, although prosciutto is not smoked. It has a very distinct, almost pungent, taste. My Daddy absolutely adored country ham. When he got older and began having heart problems, he couldn’t eat it because of the salt content, but Mama would cook a little bit for him on Christmas morning. I think he looked forward to that piece of country ham on Christmas nearly as much as all the other Christmas activities!

To make Neena’s Country Chicken you will need:

10 oz. country ham
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 slices thick-cut bacon
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup milk or light cream
1 tsp. black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300F.

That’s what country ham looks like. Dark red and sliced very thin. Make sure you use country ham, not deli ham or ham slices or spiral cut or anything like that. Line your baking pan with a single layer of country ham. I’m making a half recipe in the photos, so if you’re making the full recipe you’ll probably need two baking dishes.

Arrange the chicken breasts on top of the ham. Top each chicken breast with a half slice of thick cut bacon. Combine the soup, sour cream, milk or light cream and pepper in a bowl. Pour evenly over chicken breasts.

You won’t need any additional salt in this dish. Remember the country ham is very salty! As a matter of fact, if you’re not sure about the saltiness of your ham, I’d advise you to cook up a tiny piece and taste it. If you think it will make the dish too salty, you might want to soak the ham in milk for a few hours to remove some of the salt.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it in your preheated oven. Cook for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for an additional hour.

Serve chicken and sauce over hot, fluffy rice.


Neena’s Company Chicken
Prep time
Total time
Tender chicken breasts cooked atop country ham with a creamy sauce.
  • 10 oz. country ham
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk or light cream
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Line a baking pan with a single layer of country ham.
  3. Arrange chicken breasts on top of ham.
  4. Top each chicken breast with a half slice of bacon.
  5. Combine soup, sour cream, milk or light cream and pepper in a bowl; pour evenly over chicken breasts.
  6. Cover pan with aluminum foil and place in preheated oven.
  7. Cook for 1 hour.
  8. Remove foil and cook for an additional hour.
  9. Serve chicken and sauce over hot, fluffy rice.
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  1. says

    This is right up my street! It looks sooo tasty, I’d prefer the ham to beef too! I’ve never heard of company chicken either, but I’m glad I know about it now :) Thanks Neena :)

  2. says

    I don’t think I’ve ever had country ham before, but it sounds absolutely amazing! I have got to get my hands on some so I can try this dish. I love the story behind it too.

    • says

      Wow! Can’t believe how many commenters are saying they’ve never had country ham! Unbelieveable to a southern girl like me :-) But seriously – if you really want to try some, you can order a 1# package from Stripling’s online ( Stripling’s is an old-time country store in south Georgia that has grown to a huge sausage-ham-jerky business over the years. Everything they offer is great, so I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them. They ship all over the US.

      Here’s a link to the one-pound package:

      Also, if you like old-time country sausage, theirs is the best!

      p.s. – I have no affiliation whatsoever with Stripling’s. I just like their stuff :-)

  3. Miss P says

    Well, now, hold on just a minute. I am flabbergasted, shocked I tell you, because Mama has NEVER served this dish to me. Not once.
    Maybe I need to visit home more often. ……. Hummmmm………

    Miss P

    • says

      Well, she just made it up two weekends ago when we were down there! I didn’t mean to imply that it was something from way back in time :-)

  4. Neena says

    I havc actually served the dish with dried beef to Miss P and Mr. J. She probably doesn’t remember. It is a good dish to put in the oven while you are at church on Sunday. I am flattered that so many think that it is unique. Can’t really take credit for it being original, just happened out of necessity. More flattered that my daughter thought it worthy of posting. Thanks Lana

  5. says

    Looks good! When we were in Virginia last year, we stopped and picked up a whole Virginia Ham. It was deliscious. We picked it up over the summer and the people at the store (they only specialized in Virginia Ham’s) told us that if we were not going to use it until the Holidays (which we were intending on saving it until Christmas) we could refrigerate it to stop the curing process and prevent it from getting even saltier than it already was. If not and we wanted it to continue curing, we could just hang it up in our garage or basement and it would be just fine. We put it in the fridge come October to stop the curing and it came out great for Christmas. Now I wish I had some left. This recipe looks deliscious!!!

    If others are confused about the country ham title, you could also look for Virginia Ham and you will get the same thing.

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