The other day I was cleaning my office and I came across a folder full of recipes from long ago — probably from when my husband and I were first married.
One handwritten recipe for chicken fricassee jumped out at me. I remember learning how to cook this dish and how comforting it was and that it was even better the next day.
The tender chicken and succulent and velvety sauce is delicious served over white or brown rice, or egg noodles. Paired with a crisp green salad, it makes the perfect meal for family or guests.
6-8 bone-in, skin-on pieces of chicken (breasts, thighs, legs, etc.)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth
2 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken skin side down. Do not crowd the pan, so you may have to do this in batches. Cook about five minutes per side — slightly brown but not too brown is what you are looking for.
Remove chicken to a plate and continue until all pieces are slightly browned. Remove remaining chicken to plate. Add onion, carrot and celery (aka mirepoix), and cook until vegetables are tender, about eight minutes. Add mushrooms and cook another four to five minutes. Sprinkle on flour and cook another minute.
Turn up heat and add the wine, stirring to combine. Add chicken broth. Nestle in chicken and any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil and add parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 35-40 minutes.
When done, remove chicken to a clean plate. Discard herbs. Bring broth to a boil and reduce for a few minutes. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks and heavy cream.
To temper eggs, add about ½ cup of the hot broth a tablespoon at a time, then add it to the broth, stirring until it is combined. Add the chicken back to the pot and add tarragon, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of butter. Taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.
• • •
Crisp green salad
4-6 cups romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite- size pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup thinly-sliced cucumber
1/3 cup best quality olive oil
1/4 favorite vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons shallots, finely minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely minced
Pinch of salt and pepper
Divide lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices in four salad bowls. In a small jar, add olive oil, vinegar, Dijon, shallots, parsley, salt and pepper, shaking to combine. When ready to serve, drizzle dressing over salads.
• • •
What better way to end such a comforting meal than with one of the ultimate comfort dessert foods — bread pudding. Can you say yum?
Quick bread pudding
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
4 ½ cups good quality sturdy white bread cbues
1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add bread crumbs and raisins and combine so that all bread cubes are coated. Pour into a baking dish and bake about an hour until pudding is set. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.