Occasional recipes: chicken fricassee

This one really was a pleasant surprise. Though it’s reasonably lengthy, everything is quite sequential with no sudden surprises like “now add in the mushrooms that you marinaded for 24 hours earlier”. Also, because a fricassee is a white stew, the instructions were heavy on not letting anything burn or even get brown. I was mostly successful.

So, from The Cook’s Recipe Collection:

  • 60g butter
  • 3 chicken legs, skinned [to serve 4, they say 1.4 kg chicken quartered & skinned]
  • 570ml / 1 pint chicken stock
  • grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bouquet garni [had no idea what this was so just added chopped lemon thyme at the required moment]
  • 12-16 button onions
  • 340g mushrooms, whole or chopped if large
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 90ml double cream
  • 3 tbsps milk (optional) [which is as well because I forgot]
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh parsley
  • lemon slices to garnish [also optional/forgotten]

Melt 45g of the butter and cook the chicken (one piece at a time if necessary) until no longer pink. Don’t let it get brown. When sufficiently cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

Stir the flour into the butter bit by bit over a low heat, stirring continuously, until it’s all a pale straw colour. Remove pan from heat and gradually stir in the stock. When all blended smoothly, add lemon rind and juice. Return to heat and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for 1 minute.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the bouquet garni [if you’ve worked out what one of those is; just add the thyme if not]. The sauce should almost cover the chicken [so I added a further 1/3 pint of stock]. Bring to the poil, cover pan and simmer for 40 minutes.

Melt remaining button in a pan, add the onions, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Don’t let them brown! Remove onions with a slotted spoon [i.e. leaving the juice behind] and add to the chicken. Cook the mushrooms in the remaining butter and add to the chicken 10 minutes before the end.

Transfer chicken to a serving plate and remove the bouquet garni. Recipe then says to skim the sauce of any fat and boil to reduce by half; Ben says there’s not much fat and it’s already quite thick enough.

Blend the egg yolks and cream together and whisk in several spoonfuls of the hot sauce. Return the mixture to the remaining sauce and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly and don’t let it boil. If it is very thick, add the milk [ah, that’s what I didn’t do]. Stir in the parsley.

At this point Ben’s serving style takes over: plonk a bed of couscous on each plate, put a piece of chicken on top of it, and spoon the sauce over. Or you can do what the book says: put the chicken pieces in a serving dish and spoon the sauce over it.

Serves four if you do it their way, three quite comfortably if you do it mine.

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