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IMG_0736It’s winter time which is the perfect time for a good chicken stew. My mom had made a great fricassee recipe from a Louisiana cookbook but couldn’t remember which one it was. I searched online for a Julia Child recipe for Chicken Fricassee as I knew it would be good. I came across one from Martha Stewart that I thought would do the trick. I didn’t have all of the ingredients in stock so I made do with what I did have. The recipe featured below is what I ended up making and only a few herbs from Martha’s recipe (and any traditional fricassee recipe) were not included. For Martha’s exact recipe, click here. I’m sure the herbs I left out would add delicious complexity to the dish, but I didn’t miss them at all. I changed the recipe a bit to incorporate some time saving ingredients (pre-washed, sliced mushrooms; already cut chicken pieces).

Mom brought me her 1967 copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking along with celery stalks that I needed. The book was written by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. In it I found “Fricassee de Poulet a L’Ancienne” and the recipe was very similar to the Martha Stewart one. Julia’s recipe provides a lot of helpful detail. I highly recommend this cookbook as it teaches a lot about technique. Once you master basic techniques you can cook almost anything!

Do check out Martha’s and Julia’s original recipes which include the herbs missing from my recipe – flat leaf parsley, thyme, tarragon and a bay leaf.

Chicken Fricassee

1 package breasts (2 to 3) with skin or skinless
1 package drumsticks (5 to 6)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 8 ounce package sliced white mushrooms
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Serves 4 to 6 people.

You can substitute thighs for the drumsticks. The combination of diced carrots, celery and onion is called “mirepoix” or “aromatics” and is used as a flavor base for many types of dishes such as stocks, stews, and even spaghetti sauce.

Directions
  1. Season chicken well on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a French oven (I love my Le Creuset) or other large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and the oil to pot. When butter melts add the chicken breasts, skin side down, in a single layer.  Brown the chicken on both sides and then transfer to a plate.  Repeat with the drumsticks. I try to brown the drumsticks on all sides.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add mirepoix to pot, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Saute mirepoix until soft.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook until soft and they begin to release liquid. Stir in flour, and cook until flour is absorbed by vegetables and is no longer visible.
  4. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring until liquid just thickens, about 45 seconds. Stir in broth.
  5. Place chicken in the pot and be sure to pour in all of the juices from the plate. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover partially and cook about 25-30 minutes until chicken is done. Check the breast meat because it will cook faster than the dark meat. You will need to remove the breasts while the drumsticks finish cooking. I removed the breasts after about 12 minutes. I cooked the drumsticks until the meat was falling off the bone. Once cooked, transfer chicken to a clean plate. Simmer liquid, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.
  6. To make the liaison (sauce thickener), whisk together egg yolks and cream in a medium bowl. You will need to temper the egg and cream mixture by slowly mixing in some of the cooking liquid. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the broth to the egg cream mixture one tablespoon at a time. Stir the liaison into pot.
  7. Squeeze in lemon and one tablespoon butter and stir.  Return chicken to the pot. Bring to a simmer. It’s ready to serve.

This is a dish that is actually better the next day after all of the flavors have melded together. If reheating in the microwave, use 50% power so that the chicken does not turn rubbery.

I served my chicken fricassee over rice but it would be great over pasta, too. Pair it with a simple salad made with red leaf lettuce, sliced fresh mushrooms, and croutons. I love the New York brand Texas Toast Sea Salt & Pepper Croutons. I know, New York and Texas in the same sentence don’t make sense – but these are good! Whisk together a simple lemon vinaigrette (lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, smashed clove of garlic, dash of cayenne pepper, pinch of sugar). Put all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings and lemon and oil if necessary.

Prepping the ingredients
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Browning the chicken
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Sauteeing the mirepoix
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The second time I made it, I did use the thyme, parsley and tarragon. 
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This is an easy, great one pot dish.