Todd was wanting a bit of a treat the other day and I had some chicken legs which needed using so I decided to make him a nice chicken fricassee. A fricassee falls somewhere between a saute and a stew, relying on simple ingredients and a single cooking utensil. Fricassee to me spells home sweet home and comfort.
This is a really simple recipe. I like to use bone in, skin on chicken for the most flavour. This time I used a mix of drumsticks and thighs. These are the hardest working parts of the chicken and have the most flavour. They also tend to be a lot tougher than the breast, but a long slow cooking takes care of that beautifully.
That reminds me of the time I cooked rubber chicken. I had not been married for very long and I got what I thought was a real bargain at the shops for whole chicken. We were poor as church mice and I liked to take advantage of every bargain I could get.
This was out in Calgary when we were living there. I think these birds were only about 50 cents or some such. I decided to buy a couple and freeze one for later and use one for something special. I chose to exercise my culinary skills and make chicken cacciatore from my Fanny Farmer cookbook.
I carefully cut it up and followed the recipe exactly . . . what should have been deliciously delectable ended up being as appealing as chewing on rubber bands. I had no idea off what I had done wrong. I was finally informed by someone who knew a lot better that I had bought stewing hens . . . and the only thing that you could do with them was to braise them for hours and hours . . . not the requisite 35 to 40 minutes required by my recipe.
Oh we do learn as we go along in life don't we? I cringe at some of the things that I thought were quite sophisticated way back in the day. I have come a long way baby! (as they say!)
Back to Chicken Fricassee . . . who doesn't love chicken in gravy! Tender delicious pieces of chicken, in a gravy flavoured with sage, parsley, and onions. Chicken flavoured with nutmeg, salt, pepper and paprika. I choose to remove my chicken from the bones once it is cooked because I am not overly fond of having bones in a dish like this, but you can do whatever you want to do with yours. I just find it eats easier with the bones and skin removed. The broth will have taken all the flavour from them anyways, and they aren't really needed.
I also like to mince my onion really fine because I don't like big lumps of onion in my gravy . . . but again, that is me and a texture thing. I also think it look a lot more elegant with a smoother gravy and then just the pieces of chicken and mushrooms . . .
Rice goes beautifully with this. I use brown rice, but that's because it is healthier. If you prefer you can use white rice, or even noodles or potatoes! Altogether this is a beautiful dish that your family is going to love. Rich and delicious. Mmm . . . mmm . . . good!
*Chicken Fricasee*Serves 4
Mix together the salt, nutmeg, black pepper and paprika. Sprinkle this all over the chicken, rubbing it into the skin. Heat the oil in a medium deep flame proof casserole dish with a lid, or a deep skillet with a lid. Add the chicken pieces a few at a time and brown on all sides, removing to a dish as they are browned and adding more, until they are all browned. Add the flour to the pan drippings and cook, stirring constantly until golden brown. Whisk in the water and white wine until smooth. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 45 to 50 minutes until very tender.
Remove the chicken pieces to a bowl and set aside. Strain the juices from the pan into a large glass beaker. Clean out your cooking dish. Return to the stove and melt the butter in it until it begins to foam. Add the onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat, until they have softened nicely without browning too much. Stir in the strained pan juices and the milk and cream, combining well. Heat through on low heat. Remove any chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Add the meat to the gravy and heat through.
Serve hot spooned over rice or potatoes.
If you don't want to use white wine, feel free to use all water instead. I like the flavour the wine gives and you can buy some really great non-alcoholic wines now that give you a lovely flavour without any of the alcohol! You can also double this recipe very easily. The cook times will remain the same but you may want a larger pot, perhaps a Dutch oven! I like to serve this in large shallow bowls for a really pretty presentation. Bon Appetit!