As it turns out, just because a dish has a fancy French name doesn’t mean that it requires a fussy, overcomplicated preparation.
I’ll admit it. When I first dove deep into my exploration of fricassee, I had no idea what I was getting into.
Is it a type of lettuce? Where does the chicken go? Who am I?
Things got deep.
The moment I learned that this mysterious word simply signifies “a hybrid of a saute and a stew,” I realized that it actually involved one of my all-time favorite cooking techniques:
What was I so worried about? Turns out fricassee and I are old friends.
I’ve literally made variations of this dish more times than I can remember.
Whenever I’m asked for my favorite go-to chicken dish, the recipe I most often give out has all the steps of a fricassee. The method goes something like this:
Sear the chicken, then remove it from the pan, Add aromatics, wine, and broth. Return the poultry to the pan, cook through, and finish with something fabulous before serving.
That last part could be as simple as several pats of butter, a spoonful of sour cream, or even a celebratory dance (though I’m not sure that this will contribute much to the actual flavor of the dish, I think it’s an appropriate activity to partake in just before this meal is ready to serve up).
In the case of this particular recipe, heavy cream is the magnificent mic drop.
In this dish, it’s the technique that counts, not necessarily the ingredients that you choose. For the protein, you can use everything from a cut up whole chicken to simple, lean breasts.
Particularly when I’m braising, I opt for bone-in dark meat, as I’ve found the thighs are nearly impossible to overcook. For the aromatics of a fricassee, most people turn to a traditional French mirepoix.
There I go with the fancy French words again! Psst – it’s just carrots, celery, and onions. As my friend Ina Garten would say, “How easy was that?”
I adore the mildly oniony, slightly sweet notes of leeks, so I use those to give the dish a delicate base. “Hearty” is in the recipe title though, after all, so a meaty mix of wild mushrooms adds depth and structure to the sauce.
When the chicken is added back to the pan, it continues to cook and release its juices. If I’m preparing this fricassee on the stovetop, I like to spoon some of the cooking liquid over the thighs while they braise.
It’s kind of similar to making yourself a bubble bath beard. You don’t want anything to go to waste.
If my husband has caught me cooking skin-on chicken, he typically makes the request for a crispy brown top. Instead of throwing a lid on the pan (which softens the skin), I toss the entire dish into the oven for the homestretch.
The result: golden thighs with a crackly, salty crust. I still shower each juicy morsel in the creamy white sauce (obvi), but this method gives the finished dish a touch of texture and provides me with a happy husband.
Happy husband = me not having to do the dishes or get up early to walk the dog.
This French comfort classic is the epitome of a winner-winner chicken dinner.Print
This quintessential French dish is a humble one-pan dinner. From the silky sauce to the earthy mushrooms, it’s an irresistible classic.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 lbs)
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
- 7/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sliced leeks, white and light green parts only (about 2 thin leeks)
- 2 cups sliced assorted mushrooms (such as shiitake or cremini)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Season both sides of the chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, sear the meat for about 2-3 minutes per side until a golden brown crust forms. Set aside on a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the butter. Add the leeks and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are browned, about 3 more minutes. Season with the thyme, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
- Sprinkle the mushroom mixture with the flour, and whisk to combine. Cook until the flour is fully incorporated, about 1 minute, and then add the white wine. Scrape any browned bits, or fond, from the bottom. Whisk in the chicken stock, and add the bay leaf.
- Return the chicken pieces and all of their juices to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 25-30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and arrange them on a platter. Whisk the heavy cream into the sauce, and cook for 1 minute. Remove the bay leaf.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the remaining parsley. Serve immediately.
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Stovetop, Roasting
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: chicken, mushroom, fricassee
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Slice the Mushrooms, Leeks, and Herbs
Rinse the leeks really well under cool running water to get rid of any dirt, and slice the mushrooms. If you’re using shiitakes, remove the stems.
Rough chop the fresh thyme and parsley.
Step 2 – Season and Sear the Chicken Thighs
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Trim any excess fat off of the thighs and then season both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, sear each piece about 2-3 minutes per side until a golden brown crust forms. Set the chicken thighs aside on a plate.
Step 3 – Saute the Leeks, Garlic, and Mushrooms
Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter.
Add the leeks and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are browned, about 3 more minutes.
Step 4 – Add the Herbs and Flour
Season the mushrooms with the thyme, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Sprinkle the leeks and mushrooms with the flour, and whisk to combine.
Step 5 – Deglaze the Pan
Cook until the flour is fully incorporated, about 1 minute, and then add the white wine.
Use a crisp, dry white wine for this with a high acidity, like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, or Pinot Blanc.
Scrape any browned bits from the bottom. That’s where the flavor is! Whisk in the stock, and add the bay leaf.
Step 6 – Braise
Return the chicken pieces and all of their juices to the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F as indicated on a meat thermometer, about 25-30 minutes.
If you want crispy skin, instead of covering the pan and cooking it on the stove, you can bake the chicken uncovered at 400°F for about 20 minutes.
Step 7 – Finish the Sauce
Remove the thighs from the pan and arrange them on a serving platter.
Whisk the heavy cream into the sauce, and cook for 1 minute. Remove the bay leaf and discard it.
Step 8 – Garnish and Serve
Pour the sauce over the poultry on the platter and garnish with the remaining parsley. Serve immediately.
Silky, Simmering One-Pan Perfection
Comfort food that comes together in one, two, and a dash of cream. That’s what this fricassee is all about.
Throw in a chilled glass of sparkling wine and you’ve got yourself a hot date with a French bird.
For more soul-soothing chicken recipes, check out these dreamy concoctions worth curling up with:
What are your favorite vehicles for making one-pan meals? Cast iron? Crock-Pot? Dutch oven? Share your preferred cooking vessels in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on September 26, 2011. Last updated: July 21, 2019 at 18:35 pm.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”