I learned how to cook chicken fricassee while I was in culinary school; it was one of the first recipes we were able to do hands on. At school, it is a twenty four portion feast that requires a lot of babysitting and time for such a massive amount. At home, it’s a well-requested dish that’s very easy, requires simple, basic ingredients that is probably in your kitchen right now, and of course, is impressive.
That’s why I love it so much! It’s so impressive, sounds like it would be so difficult, and take all this time. But in fact it’s about fifteen minutes of sauteing, skimming, straining and forty five minutes of simmering. I serve this with a good green vegetable, broccoli is a family fave but roasted asparagus has gotten rave reviews, and rice or pasta.
If I’m feeling extra fancy and not caring about keeping a traditional blonde color, I add a bit of brandy and saute some cremini mushrooms to add in afterwards; it really takes it up a couple of notches.
8-10 pieces of chicken (chicken thighs, drumsticks, breasts, etc)
1 medium onion, medium dice
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup flour
4 tbsp butter
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried parsley
Juice of 1 small lemon
To Taste: Salt, white pepper (black pepper is okay)
1. Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large pan with high sides over moderate heat. Add chicken, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Do not brown, just lightly cook on each side for about two minutes. Cook in batches, if needed. During the last batch of chicken, add onions. Saute lightly, but do not brown.
2.Remove chicken and shake a quarter of the flour into the fat at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm the fat. Cook for two minutes to create a white roux. Stir in the chicken broth and add chicken, adding water if needed to cover the chicken pieces. Stir a bit and bring to a simmer to thicken the sauce.
3. Add the thyme , bay leaf, and parsley. To make straining easier, put them in a cheesecloth. Cover and cook over very low heat. Cook until tender, about 30-45 minutes.
4. Remove chicken from sauce and keep warm on a plate, covered.
5. Degrease the sauce by skimming the oil from the top. Reduce the sauce over high heat to thicken a bit more. Strain through a cheesecloth or very fine mesh sieve. Add back to the pan over medium low heat.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream with a fork. Now it’s time to temper the egg mixture. Slowly drip in some of the hot sauce (no, please don’t get the tabasco) into the egg mixture using a small ladle or large spoon. As you are doing this, whisk the egg mixture so it doesn’t cook the egg. Now you can pour in more sauce, still whisking. Once the egg mixture has warmed up, you can add it to the pan and stir it in with a whisk. This is a liaison, and it will thicken your sauce as if you just poured in a pint of cornstarch slurry!
7. You are almost done, just add the lemon juice (less if you don’t want it too tart), salt to taste, and white pepper.
Done! You can serve the sauce on the side or poured over the chicken, or replace the chicken back into the sauce in the pan. And all within an hour! If you use your time wisely, you can have dinner ready and a completely clean kitchen without having multiple pots to scrub out. (I hate when that happens…)