Chicken Fricassee with Two Vinegars

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

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

Paris 7

Telephone: 01 44 39 81 00

Métro: Sèvres-Babylone

4 Servings

Cooking Methodfrying


Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain 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


  1. Liberally season the chicken on all sides with sea salt and white pepper.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.



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I made this last night... I too agree that there is too much liquid - but what's the big deal? Reduce it... Even if the amounts were less, it would be necessary to reduce it significantly to thicken it... And the extra liquid means more flavor once it is reduced. FYI - I used the recipe in the book and made the tomato sauce - it's very simple. I made half the recipe and used the can of crushed tomatoes I had opened by mistake one day and put in the freezer.

To further clarify. In The Paris Cookbook, there is a note by the tomato sauce that sends you to page 300, where you see that the sauce is created separately and reduced to the thickness of Paul Newman Marinara. But NOT on this version. No wonder it's soupy!!!!

I looked at the recipe. This is it. BUT the tomato sauce is NOT a small can of Hunt's. It is on page 300 and involves considerable simmering to thicken it.

SAUCED? How about SOUPED? This recipe calls for more than 5 CUPS --- 5!!!!! --- of liquid for 1 chicken. I tried it. Good luck finding the chicken pieces in this "sauce". I reduced it, but there's still far too much liquid to call this a sauce. Do someone try this in a test kitchen before publishing it? My bet: no. And my further bet (having consulted BISTRO COOKING): These proportions/quantities would surprise Patricia Wells too.


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