Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chicken Fricassee {Fricassee De Poulet a L'Ancienne}

Many cooking references describe fricassee simply as a French stew, usually with a white sauce. To me it's the original French comfort food ... simmered chicken with hearty vegetables in a rich, silky sauce, that was also one of Abraham Lincoln's favorite dishes.

There are many recipes around for this one-pot chicken dish, but this combination of a bone-in chicken, with the veggies, wine, broth and spices is my favorite. It makes an easy and hearty meal for any night of the week, but is also pretty enough for Sunday supper or when company comes to visit.

Naturally, I always recommend using a pasture raised chicken from a local farm. This beauty came from my friends at Thames Farm.


1 whole chicken cut into 10 pieces (2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 breasts each cut in half)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbls. unsalted butter, softened, divided
1 tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced (1 cup)
1 carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
1 celery stalk, diced (1/3 cup)
2 tbls. all-purpose flour
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken bone broth
2 large farm fresh egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. tarragon leaves
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
2 tbls. fresh lemon juice


Brown Chicken
Season chicken on both sides with 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Preheat a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and the oil to pot. When butter melts and foam subsides, add half the chicken, skin side down, in a single layer; do not crowd pot. (If butter begins to blacken, lower heat.) Fry chicken, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes total, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Saute Onions, Carrots and Celery
Reduce heat to medium, and add mirepoix (onion, carrot, and celery) to pot, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown in places, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour, and cook until flour is absorbed by vegetables and is no longer visible, about 1 minute.

Pour in Wine and Broth
Add wine to pot, and bring to a boil, stirring until liquid just thickens, about 45 seconds. Add broth, and stir.

Simmer Chicken
Place chicken, skin side up, in a single layer on vegetables; pour juices that have accumulated on plate into pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover partially. Cook until internal temperature of thickest part of chicken registers 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a clean plate. Simmer liquid, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.

Make Sauce Thickener
To make the sauce thickener, whisk together egg yolks and cream in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, pour 1/2 cup cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, into liaison to temper it. Stir tempered sauce into pot. Return chicken to pot. Add tarragon, thyme, lemon juice, and the remaining butter. Bring to a simmer, stir gently to combine, and serve.


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