Mrs. Regueiro's Plate: Julia Child's Chicken Fricassee

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Julia Child's Chicken Fricassee

I was inspired to make another Julia Child dinner because her birthday recently passed on August 15. I wanted to honor her for her birthday and attempt to make another French dish that Eric and I would love.  I wanted something traditional and hearty for our Sunday dinner at home, and when I read the passage on Chicken Fricassee it was a nice combination of braising and sauteing. Chicken Fricassee seemed to be an easier recipe to tackle versus my attempt at Boeuf Bourguignon, both dishes had similar cooking techniques that I was very comfortable for preparing a wonderful Sunday dinner.

This is a classic chicken dish that is served with a wonderful buttery and aromatic sauce. The wonderful white-braised onions is unbelievably tasty and really adds to the dish. (Don't skip that step!) Please take note, that dish does take a lengthy time to prepare. Eric came into the kitchen while I was preparing dinner, and said "Wow you are using all 4 burners for this?" I kinda laughed it off because it doesn't happen too often, and I told him to be ready to wash because I used lots of pots and pans, too. Set aside some time to prepare this for your next family Sunday dinner because it is truly one remarkable meal. I served the Chicken Fricassee with steamed basmati rice and nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford Ranch. Happy Birthday Julia Child, you are still lovingly missed! Bon appétit!
Julia Child's Chicken Fricassee (Fricassee De Poulet A L'Ancienne)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1
3 pounds of chicken (mixture of drumsticks and thighs - or you can cut up a fryer chicken)
4 tablespoons of butter
2 medium-sized carrots, diced finely
2 celery stalk, diced finely
1 medium white onion, diced finely
Salt & white pepper
3 tablespoon flour
3 cups of chicken stock, boiling hot
1 cup of dry white wine
Small herb bouquet: (2 parsley springs, 2 thyme sprigs, and 1 bay leaf - tied in a cheesecloth)
2 egg yolks
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Dash of fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon of Italian parsley, chopped

White-Braised Onions (Oignons Glacés à Blanc) Recipe below
Fresh Stewed Mushrooms (Champignons à Blanc) Recipe below


Prepare the white-braised onions - this step takes about 45 to 50 minutes. By the time the onions are finished cooking - your chicken fricassee should be finished as well. Recipe below.

Heat a large dutch oven on medium-high heat, and add the butter. Sauté the mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions) and cook until tender - about 5 minutes. Push mirepoix to the far end of the pot, and make room for the chicken. Turn the heat up on high.

Pat the chicken pieces down with a paper towel, and place in the dutch oven - skin side down. Cook the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden yellow. Flip the chicken and brown the other side. Lower the heat and cover the dutch oven. Let it cook for 10 minutes.

Remove the cover and season the chicken with salt, white pepper and flour. Make sure the chicken is well-seasoned, rotating the chicken pieces to season it. Mix the mirepoix with the chicken and let it cook for another 4 minutes.

Turn off the heat, and add the boiling hot chicken stock and wine to the pot. The liquid should start to thicken in color and mix well. Add the herb bouquet to the middle of the dutch oven, and make sure the liquid covers the chicken and add additional chicken stock or water if needed. Taste for seasoning and salt/pepper if needed.

Cover the dutch oven and cook at a low simmer for 25 minutes. While the chicken cooks away on the stove, prepare the stewed mushrooms and steamed rice. (Prepare rice to your liking. This is my foolproof way of making rice. In a small pot, add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon of salt and one cup of rice. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and cover and bring the heat down to a low simmer. Cook for 15 to 17 minutes, and fluff rice when done).

Remove the cover from the dutch oven, and increase heat to high. Let the sauce reduce and it should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Taste for seasonings, add salt/pepper if needed.

In a small bowl, add the egg yolks and heavy cream and whisk it together. Temper the hot liquid sauce with the egg mixture a couple spoonfuls at a time. Be careful to not let the eggs scramble, and when the mixture is up, add the egg liquid mixture into the dutch oven. Mix well and the sauce should be a beautiful golden liquid.

Bring the dutch oven to a boil and taste for seasonings. Salt and pepper if needed. Add the lemon juice and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Turn down the heat to a low simmer and add the white-braised onions and stewed mushrooms into the dutch oven, and stir well. Add 2 tablespoons of softened butter and chopped fresh Italian parsley and stir again. Serve the chicken fricassee with a plate of steamed rice and garnish with additional Italian parsley if desired.

White-Braised Onions(Oignons Glacés à Blanc):
Note: Quickest way to remove the skins, add to a pot of boiling water and shock them for 5 to 10 seconds. Quickly remove them and run cold water over them. Trim the top and bottoms, and skins should peel off quickly. Or use freezer onions, too.
18 to 24 peeled white onions
½ cup of chicken stock or dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
Salt & pepper to taste
Small herb bouquet (2 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf tied in a cheesecloth)

In a medium skillet on low heat, add the onions, butter, chicken stock, seasonings and herb bouquet. Cover and let it simmer for 45 to 50 minutes. If any liquid evaporates, add more if needed. The onions should sweeten and tender over the cooking process and should not break its shape. Set aside when ready to use. (This is the most heavenly way to prepare onions...I could eat them like this everyday of the week if I could!)

Fresh Stewed Mushrooms(Champignons à Blanc):
8 ounces of fresh baby bella mushrooms, chopped and quartered
juice of half lemon
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup water
Salt & pepper

Bring the water, butter, lemon juice to boil in a small saucepan. Add the mushrooms and stir them around to make sure the liquid covers them. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Review: What a marvelous and highly enjoyable French Sunday dinner, and even though Julia claims it to be a straight-forward and easy dinner to prepare...with all the steps included - it literally took me about 2 hours. I consider myself pretty fast and efficient in the kitchen, but it was really all worth the effort and time. The most important key to preparing this dish is your mise en place, making sure all your key ingredients are chopped up and ready to go. The end result was a beautiful chicken dish topped with a delicious and buttery-rich mushroom/onion sauce that is still lingering on the tips of my tongue. DELISH! I bet Julia would be proud of my accomplishment.

Chicken Fricassee on Foodista

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