Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicken Fricasse with Mushrooms

Chicken Fricasse' with Fresh Green Beans on the side
Here's my next installment of cooking like Julia: Fricasse' de Poulet a' L'Ancienne. Roughly translated, this means, Old Fashioned Chicken Fricasse with Wine Flavored Cream Sauce, Onions and Mushrooms. I guess the Ancients were into cream sauce with wine and mushrooms? Who knows.
I must confess that my impressions of chicken fricasse were not memorable. I don't recall having had this dish as a child but do remember hearing it spoken of... in a book? on TV? I honestly don't remember. I came across this recipe while continuing my random experiment of Cooking Like Julia (see here ). My choice was also dictated by the fact that I had a ziploc bag of random chicken parts in my freezer that looked like they needed to be cooked. I scaled down the recipe to feed the two of us, since the offspring are currently off doing their own things.
I kept the spirit of the recipe true to Julia, but added in a little of my own kitchen knowledge, tailoring it to suit our tastes. The final dish was creamy and tasty, with tender chicken and savory mushrooms. This scaled down recipe will make about 3 servings. We like to have one extra for someone to eat for lunch later in the week!

Chicken Fricasse' with Mushrooms
4 - 5 pieces of chicken (I had 2 thighs, 1 breast and 2 wings)
2 T. butter
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
4 baby carrots, sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 T. flour
salt and pepper
1 1 /2 c. chicken stock or broth
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 small bay leaf or 1/2 of a larger one
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
8 oz. cleaned and dried white mushrooms, halved
1 tsp. butter + 1 tsp. olive oil
1 egg yolk
1/4 c. half and half or light cream
a little lemon juice
pinch of nutmeg
fresh parsley for garnish
Prepared egg noodles, risotto or rice
Dry the chicken on a few paper towels. Melt the butter over medium heat, in a heavy skillet ( I used a non-stick one). Add the sliced celery, carrots and onions. Cook the vegetables until they begin to soften. Push them aside and add the chicken, skin side down, to the skillet. Raise the heat slightly and let the chicken cook for about 5 minutes, until skin starts to stiffen slightly and just begins to brown. Turn it over and let it cook for another 3 - 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and sprinkle the pan with the flour, a pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir the flour into the drippings so that it is completely absorbed. Cook the flour and veggies a few minutes, and then add the broth and wine. Stir well so that the flour mixture dissolves into the broth. Return the chicken, add another pinch of salt and pepper, the bay leaf and parsley. The chicken should be almost covered by the liquid: You may add a little more broth or water if you need to. Bring the dish up to a simmer. Cover and cook, covered, over low to medium heat for 30 minutes. The chicken is done when the juices run clear when pierced by a fork or knife tip.
In a separate skillet, melt 1 tsp. butter, with 1 tsp. olive oil. When the foaming of the butter subsides, add the halved mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown. When they are browned, squeeze a little lemon juice over and add them to the chicken and vegetables in the larger skillet.
At this point, you may put the dish away to be served later that day or as much as 2 days later. Refrigerate the entire fricasse' covered to be reheated and finished as you like.
To finish the dish, remove any loosened skin from the chicken (this is especially easy to do w/the thighs. I used a boneless skinless breast so had no skin to remove from that). Skim off any accumulated fat from the top of the sauce. (Reheat the sauce if you have refrigerated it.) Beat the egg yolk into the cream with a fork or whisk. Take a spoonful of the sauce from the hot dish and add it into the cream mixture. (This is called tempering -- you do it so that the yolk won't "scramble" when you add it to the sauce in the pan.) Mix in the hot liquid and then add another spoonful. Repeat. Once the cream mixture is heated stir it into the sauce in the skillet, mixing well to incorporate and distribute the cream completely.
Grate in a little fresh nutmeg if desired. I think this gives the dish some depth and flavor. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning. Remove the chicken from the pan and arrange it over some buttered egg noodles, rice or risotto. Pour over the sauce and garnish with some fresh parsley. Garnish with fresh parsley. I prepared fresh green beans to go along with it, but Julia suggests Petit Pois or asparagus. Broccoli would be good as well.

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