Archive for January, 2006

Chicken Fricasee

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

I love cozy wine-flavored winter stews: this is a classic based on a recipe from Julia Child. In From Julia Child’s Kitchen this recipe appears side by side with the recipe for Coq au Vin, as the techniques and ingredients are so similar — a quick sauté followed by a slow simmer in a wine-y liquid.

This is a simple recipe. The most time consuming part is peeling the pearl onions, one of the all-time most irritating kitchen chores, on a par with washing lettuce or peeling butternut squash. You can cut this time in half by blanching the onions in boiling water for about 45 seconds and allowing them to cool for a few minutes before peeling. Make sure this is finished before you start the chicken.

Because the wine makes up such a high percentage of the cooking liquid, it’s best to choose something you’d be more than happy to drink on its own. My choice would be a nicely balanced French chardonnay or pinot gris. Serve this over rice, wild rice, basmati rice, or egg noodles. Serves 6 as a hearty supper or 10-12 as a light meal.

2 1/2 lbs chicken parts, patted dry
4 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp dried tarragon
1 tbsp dried thyme
30-40 peeled yellow or white pearl onions
2 cups decent quality white wine
up to 1 quart chicken broth
3/4 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch fresh tarragon

Melt butter over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed pan with a cover (the Le Crueset dutch oven, pictured, is ideal.) Sauté chicken for 10-15 minutes until the exterior firms up, turning frequently so it doesn’t brown. The skin should be pale golden in color. Add salt, pepper, dried tarragon, thyme, and onions, and cover. Cook for about 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir. Remove from heat and add wine, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add chicken broth to cover, replace over medium-high heat and simmer gently for 35-40 minutes, until chicken pieces are cooked through. Add mushrooms and simmer a few minutes more. Turn heat to low. Stir in cream and fresh tarragon, and serve immediately.

NOTE FOR DISAPPOINTED FRICASSEURS: The fact that your fricasee failed to thicken is MY FAULT. This shit’s supposed to have flour in it. You’re at least as good a cook as me, and a better copy editor.