Chicken Fricassee with Two Vinegars
A perfect farm chicken, properly cut into serving pieces and sautéed to a golden tenderness, sauced with a luscious blend of cream, tomatoes, vinegar, and stock, is a culinary triumph. This recipe, typical of the sort of traditional bistro fare that makes French food so appealing and satisfying, appeared in my shopping bag one day as part of a promotion for the delicate, creamy-fleshed poulet de Bresse, the king of French chicken. The first time I made this for my husband, Walter, and myself, there were a few leftovers. The next day Walter asked what I did with the chicken. When I said I had frozen it, he replied. “Oh, good. It makes me happy to know that I have it in my future.” Then he added. “But I really think you need to test that again, soon.” I did, and it’s been a family favorite ever since. At home I serve this with steamed rice or fresh pasta.
Where Bresse poultry is not available, use a good, meaty, free-range chicken, organic if you can find it. It will be firmer, less fatty, and certainly more flavorful than the smaller, battery-raised variety.
EQUIPMENT: A deep skillet with a lid.
This dish from the Bresse region is tailor-made for a simple, fruity Beaujolais.
Bresse poultry can be found at any good Parisian butcher shop. I often buy mine at:
La Grande Epicerie de Paris
Le Bon Marché Department Store
38, Rue De Sèvres
Telephone: 01 44 39 81 00
Total Timeunder 2 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturecreamy, meaty, savory, winey
- 1 fresh farm chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 serving pieces, at room temperature
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground white pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup best-quality white champagne vinegar
- 1/3 cup best-quality red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely minced
- ¾ cup tomato sauce
- 1 2/3 cups homemade chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
Liberally season the chicken on all sides with sea salt and white pepper.
In a deep skillet, combine the oil and butter, and heat over moderate heat. When the fats are hot but not smoking, add the chicken, skin side down, and brown until it turns an even golden color, about 5 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown them on the other side, 5 minutes more. Carefully regulate the heat to avoid scorching the skin. (This may have to be done in batches.) When all the pieces are browned, use tongs (to avoid piercing the meat) to transfer them to a platter.
Pour off and discard the fat in the skillet. Off the heat, add the two vinegars and deglaze the pan. Add the wine. Add the shallots and cook, covered, over low heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a large warmed platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Add the tomato sauce and the stock to the skillet; stir to blend thoroughly. Add the cream and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet, cover, and cook over low heat, turning the pieces from time to time to absorb the sauce, for about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and serve.
2001 Patricia Wells