The late, great American chef Julia Child, in her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” described fricassee as “halfway between a sauté and a stew.”
In a fricassee cut-up meat is first sautéed, then liquid is added and it is simmered to finish cooking. A stew includes liquid from the beginning.
For me, someone who doesn’t think cooking is a chore when it involves a lot of preparation such as slicing, dicing and chopping, a dish like a fricassee is pure pleasure to make and even better to eat. I get even more satisfaction out of preparing these kinds of dishes with the knowledge that some of the ingredients come from my garden or my hunting.
That’s the case with following fricassee recipe, which I prepared recently. I substituted pheasant, obtained on one of my fall hunting trips, for the traditional chicken. And of the vegetables in the dish, the carrots and onion came from my garden. Despite the preparation of the meat and veggies and the time it took to cook them, the fricassee was ready to serve with rice in less than an hour.
It was said that President Lincoln was a big fricassee of chicken fan. I’m sure a 45-minute wait wasn’t too long considering he had to suffer through the four-year Civil War during his presidency.
Chicken or Pheasant Fricassee
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds chicken or pheasant thighs or breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces asparagus, cut into 2-inch spears
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
2 teaspoons freshly thyme leaves
1 teaspoon tarragon
In a large high-sided skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper then add to skillet and sauce, 5 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and set aside on a plate.
In the same skillet add butter and melt then add onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add flour and cook 1 minute. Pour in wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of pan and reduce wine by half, 7 minutes.
Add broth and cream and season with parsley, thyme, and salt and pepper. Add chicken, cut into bite-size pieces, back to pan and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened, 15 minutes. Add asparagus for the last 5 minutes. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.