Friday, April 6, 2012

Chicken Fricassee

A most simple recipe from my Mutti (mom) that is all about comfort. This is a dish that instantly brings me back to being 9 years old, coming in on a winter day after playing outside for hours and the house being filled warmth and lovely, stomach growl inducing smells. 

The original incarnation comes from a French method of stewing poultry and then thickening with butter or cream. It eventually made it's way to Louisiana where the cajun version starts with a dark roux, then adds peppers, onions, celery & garlic. This version bears some faint resemblances, but has been completely adapted for what was readily available in exotic south jersey. Chicken. Onions. Egg noodles. Mushrooms. Chicken broth. Peas. Sounds simple, but what comes out of the pot at the end is chicken fricassee for the soul. 

My mother rarely writes down her recipes, so it's only through making them yourself that you can learn her secrets. She's crafty like that. The only real seasoning in this is salt & pepper - so it's important to keep seasoning after each ingredient is added. You need to continually taste to make sure the balance is right. I took her basic recipe and added a few tweaks - wine to deglase the pot, dried porcini mushrooms, etc. One taste of the finished product reassured me that I hadn't strayed too far from center though. Hopefully she'd be proud of the result.  Thanks mutti!! 

Cook time approx 1hr - Serves 6

3 tablespoons oil 
5 or 6 chicken pieces, skin on and bone-in (season with salt & pepper)
1 large onion, sliced
3/4 cup white wine 
1 pkg fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 pkg dried porcinis
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3-4 cups chicken stock
1/2 a bag of extra wide egg noodles 
1-1/2 cups frozen peas
Salt & Pepper

Steep the dried porcinis in 1 cup nearly boiling water until reconstituted. Remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid through a cheese cloth. Reserve the liquid for later. 

In a large, deep pot heat the oil over medium high till glistening. Add chicken pieces and brown 6-8 minutes on each side. It's important not to turn the pieces early. You'll know when they're done when they pull away from the pan easily. Lower heat, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. 

Turn the heat back up and add the onion and wine. Deglase the pan, scraping up all the good bits from the bottom. Saute the onions over medium heat till translucent, then add porcinis, criminis and the garlic. Continue to saute until the criminis have given up their moisture and started to soften. Add the reserved porcini liquid and simmer down slightly. Season with salt & pepper. 

Next add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and return the chicken to the pot. Cover and simmer till the noodles are cooked thru. Add frozen peas a few minutes before serving - they'll cook quickly and you want them to stay bright green. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary. 

Serve in a shallow bowl with a piece of chicken, some noodles and plenty of the veggies. Mmmm...comfort. 


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