It seems that a few updated versions of classic French chicken recipes are back on menus and quickly becoming favourites. Chicken Fricassée appears most often. Nowadays the term ’fricassée’ is applied to lots of chicken dishes with a sauce of some sort. I did a little research on what it used to mean. Larousse describes a fricassee as a dish with a white sauce, meaning a sauce that’s light in colour. Cream is often used in these sauces. Elizabeth David says that a sauce for chicken that’s thickened with egg yolk makes the dish a fricassée. Whichever way it’s interpreted, a chicken fricassée is usually quite a simple comforting dish without too many ingredients. This is our favourite at home. I like to use shitake mushrooms as well as button mushrooms to add extra flavour. Dried, re-hydrated porcini mushrooms also are good in this.
Ingredients (for 6)
6 chicken Marylands
25-30 button mushrooms, wiped clean
5-6 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced, stalks trimmed
4-5 large shallots, peeled, finely chopped
2 tbsps plain flour
Bouquet garni – sprig of fresh thyme, sprig of parsley, 2 bay leaves tied together
2 tsps freshly grated nutmeg
White wine and chicken stock to cover (I used 1 cup stock, ¾ bottle white wine)
4 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper
Heat a little oil or butter in a flameproof lidded dish. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside. Add the shallots and mushrooms to the dish. With the lid on cook on a gentle heat till the shallots are soft, not brown. Mix in the flour. Cook for a minute. Return the chicken to the dish and add the stock, wine, nutmeg and bouquet garni. Stir, bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer.
After about 15 minutes remove the lid and keep the dish simmering. The wine and stock will start to reduce and thicken a little. Test the chicken for doneness after 30-35 minutes. Once it’s cooked, gently lift the chicken out of the dish and keep warm it while you finish the sauce.
Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Ladle 5-6 large spoonsful of the hot sauce into another small bowl. Very carefully, starting very slowly, while stirring the yolks, add the sauce from the chicken. This needs to be done slowly otherwise the yolks will cook and you’ll have scrambled egg in the sauce. Once it’s all incorporated do the same thing with this mixture gently pouring it into the rest of the chicken sauce. It will gradually thicken and be smooth and creamy without actually having cream in it. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Return the chicken pieces to the dish and make sure they’re all coated with the sauce.
Serve on rice if you feel like it or just as is with a green vegetable. Simple, everyday delicious food!!