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Archive for September 17th, 2010

Fricassée is a French dish and is a stew of chicken or other poultry, but sometimes of other white meat, rabbit, fish or vegetables.  The meat is cooked in a white gravy, or sauce, which includes cream or (in my version) a similar dairy product.  Many versions add vegetables, particularly mushrooms, often with the addition of a little white wine or dry vermouth.  There is, I gather, a Cajun version which is much darker in colour and served, as I do, with rice.  All of this information was discovered when doing a little research for this preamble, having realised I did not really know what Fricassée was.  I am still not especially any the wiser, apart from confirming that I was right about its French origins.  Although there was no mention of using dark meat, I have a particularly good recipe for Lamb Fricassée, which I really must make again and post on this site.

I have been making my version of this recipe, a family favourite and a particularly good way to use up chicken leftovers from a roast dinner (or turkey at Christmas).  Fresh chicken can be used but it should be included earlier in the recipe once the onion and bacon mixture are partly cooked.  I like to add a little bacon to give extra flavour and often add a selection of the vegetables I have to hand, but always include mushrooms and some frozen peas.  I like to make my version as colourful as possible, the vegetables I include and selected to give a good variety of colour as well as balance of flavour.   I consulted a recipe to double check the ingredient list, but in the end made very few modifications to the one given below, which is mostly my original version.   I found a good one in a slim book of chicken recipes found in a charity shop: Pan-Cooked Chicken Dishes (Pub: IMP Ltd – no obvious author) in the Recipes from Around the World series.  I have often seen copies of this book for sale cheaply and wonder if it was originally given away free with a magazine, or similar.   

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Chicken & Bacon Fricassée
(Serves 4)

½oz/10g butter
1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 leek, cut into rings
4ozs/125g mushrooms, button if available – quartered or finely sliced
4ozs/125g diced streaky bacon – smoked or unsmoked
Small glass of white wine – optional (I usually omit this)
1tsp Herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper
1tbsp cornflour
150g crème fraîche, soured cream or single cream – or even milk!
8ozs/250g cooked chicken leftovers
   or
12ozs/375g uncooked skinned & boned chicken, cut into strips
Peas, courgette, red pepper (or other colour), sweetcorn – choose 2 or 3
1tbsp lemon juice – optional (for rice)

1.  Melt the butter and olive oil together in a frying pan.  Cut vegetables, apart from leek, into similarly sized pieces so they cook evenly.

2.  Finely chop the onion and gently fry in the covered pan with the garlic, finely chopped carrot, rings of leek, bacon and mushrooms until the onion is transparent and the vegetables have softened.  

3.  Stir in the Herbes de Provence and add the Bay leaf.  If you are using wine it can be added at this point. 

4.  If using fresh chicken add it at this point, stirring well until it starts to change colour.  Put the lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes.

5.  Add two or three other vegetables – I used peas, diced courgette and diced red pepper. 

6.  Season to taste.  If using pre-cooked chicken cut it into bite sized pieces and add.

7.  Mix (slake) 1tbsp cornflour in a little water and stir into the chicken and vegetable mixture.  Stir well over a low heat until the cornflour mixture thickens the fricassée.

8.  Stir in the crème fraîche, soured cream, single cream or milk and cook through.  It is important that this is done over a low heat otherwise the mixture could curdle. 

9.  Serve on a bed of white rice with a little lemon juice stirred through just before serving.

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