Chicken Fricassee, better known by Julia Child as Chicken Ragout, is something between a saute and a stew. It’s a classic French comfort food dish made with simple ingredients, often made in a single pot. (This one isn’t.)
- 2 to 3 lbs. frying chicken parts (I used boneless, skinless chicken)
- 3 1/2 T. butter (divided)
- 1 T. olive oil or good quality cooking oil
- 3 c. sliced onion (about 5 small)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 c. chopped tomatoes
- 3 c. mild red wine (Zinfandel or Chianti)
- 1 to 1 1/2 c. chicken stock
- 1 1/2 T. flour
- Parsley sprigs for garnish, optional
- Thoroughly wash chicken parts and pat dry. In large, high rimmed skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter and the oil. Brown chicken pieces over medium-high heat on all sides, about 5 to 8 minutes. (The chicken must be patted dry before browning.) Remove to a plate, leaving fat in pan.
- Add onions to the pan and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes, then increase heat to medium-high and brown onions slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and return to the pan. Add browned onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and tomato. Pour in wine and enough stock to barely cover. (I used an entire bottle of wine!) Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes.
- Remove chicken to a side dish and spoon off surface fat in pan, if any. Taste juice for strength and seasoning. Boil down the juice rapidly if it needs strength, adding more seasoning as necessary. Remove pan from heat.
- Using fingertips, rub together remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and flour until mixture forms a smooth paste. Whisk in bits of the mixture at a time into the sauce to thicken it slightly. Return sauce to heat and boil gently, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes. Sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat back of a spoon. Serve chicken with dumplings in a small pool of sauce.
I would not recommend using chicken breast for this recipe as it will dry out from all the browning and stewing. (Mine did.) This dish has a lovely taste – probably lovelier with moist chicken. To counteract the dryness of my chicken, I decided to shred it soak it in the sauce. Since the sauce was both thickened and reduced, I needed to thin and stretch it out. I did this by adding almost two cups of chicken stock back to the sauce. I served my chicken shredded, drowning in sauce over Drop Dumplings. It got rave reviews from two of my coworkers.