Chicken Fricasee is a dish made for winter. It's a dish my friend Miss America also calls "French Chicken" and is a gloriously satisfying chicken recipe involving chicken pieces, onions, garlic, bay leaves, tarragon and white wine. It also happens to be very easy to make and perfect for feeding a family or a crowd.
Usually a fricassee is something between a saute and a stew (that's how it was described in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle) and involves a meat cooked with a white sauce. Traditionally a chicken fricassee does not involve browning the chicken but it isn't quite as appealing visually to have an all white dish. So we tend to break the rules a bit and brown the chicken because quite honestly it looks a bit like prison gruel otherwise.
If you want a comforting, gorgeous dish for the rain or cold, there isn't much better than this especially served with Pommes Anna, a layered potato dish that is made up of two ingredients: potatoes and butter. I was inspired to make this combination from a visit to a Sydney's Restaurant Hubert where they serve the two together. I added Swiss Brown mushrooms to the fricassee and plenty of tarragon. Usually Pommes Anna is done in a special copper tin called a "la cocotte à pommes Anna" that allows you to flip the dish over to crisp the potatoes on both sides. I just did it using two round baking pans.
Lately I've started to feel a bit lethargic. Call it the curse of Winter but everything seems to be a bit of an effort. The other day I dragged my feet to see my trainer Nina. I was training at her house and was typically late but when she opened the door I saw something that utterly delighted me.
It was a tiny, fluffy Maltese dog called Millie!
Long time readers will know that we've been trying to get a little dog but the head of the strata committee has blocked us at every turn. We haven't made any progress since and applications keep getting filed and rejected. It's a frustrating process designed to bog you down in paperwork and waiting. While we wait our upstairs neighbour who is on the strata committee plays cacophonous saxaphone unabated for hours each day.
But here was Millie, a gorgeous little white fluff ball that wagged her little tail and came for cuddles. She even could see when I was not happy lifting some weights and stood underneath me looking up at my imploringly (Maltese have very expressive eyes). Nina was dog sitting her for her neighbour. I couldn't stop thinking about Millie and we started to research Maltese terriers. Apparently they're a rather quiet breed especially compared to a pomeranian (the noise being the strata's sole objection).
That night I had a dream that I had four pets (okay in the dream I lost all of them! Hmmm...) and the next day I told Mr NQN that we should just forget the strata rules and get a dog because they were being unreasonable. He is always telling me off for breaking rules. I don't mean serious laws but more rules like fashion rules and societal rules. Or unreasonable rules dictated by strata buffoons.
"I'm just letting you know that one day, you're going to come home from work and I'll have a dog," I warned him. "And nobody will hear it because it will be a Maltese and to hell with the strata committee!" I think he believed me because the next night he came home and looked around excitedly. "Is there a doggy?" he asked.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever break the rules? And would you be tempted to get a dog anyway or would you wait for the strata approval? What is your favourite winter dish?
Chicken Fricasee with Pommes Anna
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
- Olive oil for frying
- 1.8kg/4lb. chicken, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup plain all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 golden eschallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-5 sprigs of fresh tarragon
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup cream
- 300g/10.6ozs. Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1 - Heat the olive oil in a pot and while it is heating, mix the flour with the salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in this (you can omit this step with the flour if you want it to be gluten free) and then brown the chicken on all sides. Do this is 2-3 lots as it won't likely fit into the pot. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Fresh bay leaves (I keep these in the freezer)
Step 2 - Add some oil and saute the eschallots and garlic cloves in the same pot until translucent. Add the bay leaves, tarragon, white wine, stock, cream and add the chicken pieces back into the pan and put the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 220C/440F.
Step 3 - Remove the chicken pieces and place them skin up in a baking tray. Roast in a 220C/440F oven (I put them with the Pommes Anna below) for 10-15 minutes or until golden browned. Meanwhile add the mushrooms to the sauce and heat to a simmer and then allow the mushrooms to cook and the sauce to reduce with the lid off for around 15 minutes or so. Serve the sauce on top of the chicken in the baking dish.
Light work is made of this if you use a mandolin. If you do this by knife it may drive you a bit mad. Just a warning...
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
- 1kg/2.2lbs. potatoes
- 100g/3.5ozs. butter, melted
- 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
- Salt and pepper to season
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 220C/440F. Wash and slice the potatoes using a mandolin (I put it on setting 2, the middle setting). Take two round tins of around the same size and line the bases. Mix the garlic with the butter. Layer the potatoes in one drizzling over the butter over every quarter or so. Finish with a generous drizzle of butter on top.
Step 2 - Bake for 25 minutes or until crispy golden. Then take the other round pan and doing this over the sink, flip the potatoes so that the crispy top ends up on the bottom. Bake for another 10 minutes and repeat the flipping action until all of the potatoes are crispy and fork tender. If you are feeling lazy you can just leave them in the pan and not flip them too. I won't tell anyone ;)