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Chicken Fricassee

Chicken fillet fricassee

The name of fricassee or fricassee It already indicates that we are referring to a Gallic recipe. Etymologically and according to Wikipedia, it comes from French fricassee and, in turn, it can have two origins: from vulgar Latin frigicare ‘fry’, or a cross between two French verbs fry ‘fry’ and casser ‘to break’. French emigration brought the dish to America where it soon became popular as a poultry stew. The idea is to sauté (or fry) the meat first without it taking color and then slowly braise it with vegetables, wine, chicken broth and aromatic herbs, to finally pass it through a well-linked cream sauce made of mushrooms or any other type of mushrooms. This dish, which seems almost from the “new kitchen”, is a classic that dates back to the Middle Ages (13th century) and is included in one of the pioneer cookbooks of French gastronomy (Le Viandeer, 1490), where it appears as “friquassee”.

The ingredients of this recipe in terms of meat have evolved a lot and today it is used with all kinds of meats, including fish, and it also admits all kinds of vegetables, but its preparation remains basically the same: a meat stir fry that later it is cooked in a “Dutch oven” (cocotte), one of them thick-walled iron or ceramic pots with airtight lid used to cook food slowly, providing even heat. This procedure is not at all necessary although it gives a certain French and exotic character to the recipe.

I had not heard of “fricassee” until I tried it in England a thousand years ago, and it seemed to me to be a bland and rampant dish, like a large part of English stews; but over time and Julia Child’s wonderful book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I have rediscovered a Great, cheap and easy to make recipe, where a simple chicken, cut into pieces and with bones, or clean breasts, turns into a really sumptuous recipe, very appropriate for some of the Christmas holidays. It also has the advantage that you can cook it in advance and freeze it.

The fricassee has, for me, a special incentive: it was the favorite dish of Abraham Lincoln, a peasant of very humble origin (his parents worked a small farm in Kentucky) who became the sixteenth president of the United States and was, undoubtedly, , one of the most popular and admired presidents. During his tenure, a bloody civil war was waged to abolish slavery; and when peace was finally signed, he was vilely murdered on April 15, 1865.

Perhaps due to his modest origins, he was sparing in food and little exquisite in his tastes. He ate very little, did not eat breakfast, and ate fruit, cheese, and biscuits; He was a teetotaler and only drank tea. His wife, Mary Todd, a wealthy southern woman, tried to tempt him with dishes that could combat his permanent lack of appetite, but it seems that he only succeeded with chicken fricassee or with a scallop of oysters and scallops; And, of course, a good American apple pie.

If I had to give a justification for this predilection, the following reason occurs to me: the chicken fricassee is made with meat that at the time of the character must have been highly appreciated, and especially by someone who lived on a small farm where a chicken was killed under very exceptional circumstances; vegetables (carrots, onions and mushrooms) were also products associated with his childhood, and aromatic herbs (thyme, pereji and bay leaf) would remind him of some hidden place in the garden. As for its preparation, despite being a French dish, it is very similar to American stews; It is a tender and tasty meat dish that, for people with little appetite, requires little chewing; it is accompanied by a sauce delicious, with a smooth, creamy and velvety flavor provided by the cream, the cream, flavored with chicken broth, sherry and aromatic herbs and, thanks to the mushrooms, it is much less cloying than the traditional cream and cheese sauces. In short, an appetizing dish to dip the crackers with which Mr. Lincoln used to take it.

As I have mentioned before, food tells us so many things about people that, if we analyze culinary tastes in detail, we could make a fairly accurate portrait of them. Lincoln undoubtedly did not experience pleasant times in the White House but a civil war, the American Civil War (1861-1865), a bloody conflict, which caused thousands of deaths on both sides. This terrible event it was a constant reason of suffering and frustration for him that occupied all the hours of his day; therefore, it is easy to understand that food was absolutely insignificant and secondary for him.

We will not remember Lincoln for the refinement of President Ulysses S. Grant, at whose banquets up to twenty-nine dishes were served, or for the refinement of the French cuisine that Jackie Kennedy brought to the White House, but we will remember him for the concise and exciting Gettysburg speech, where his prediction that “the world will hardly warn and will not long remember what we say here” was never fulfilled; rather, his words on freedom and democracy, spoken on the Gettysburg battlefield, have resonated and will resonate throughout history.

It is curious that the recipe that I offer you today, based on the Fricassee de poulet a la L’Ancienne by Julia Child, it is not very different from the “chicken fricassee”, which whetted the President’s appetite. However, I am going to do it with a part of the chicken that, not long ago, was sold added to the breast – since it is the part that is located just below it – and today it can be bought independently; I am referring to the chicken sirloin, whose price is very similar or even lower; Personally, I think it is the ideal meat for this recipe because it is more tender and tasty than the same breast.

Ingredients:

(It will give for 3 or 4 diners)

600 gr. chicken tenderloin

medium k. mushroom
1 chive or white onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick cut into squares
1 carrot

a garlic clove
Salt
black pepper
3 tablespoons of flour
half a glass of white wine or a sherry
herbs: parsley, bay leaf, thyme

200 or 250 ml. cream
nutmeg

Optional:

a sauce of boletus oil to sauté the mushrooms

a can of asparagus tips to accompany this dish if you want to make a special dish

Elaboration:

1.Fry the sirloins with very little oil in a very hot roasting pan (thick-walled pan with two handles and a lid) (the equivalent of the Dutch oven, but any saucepan will do:

2. Although I love to brown the meat a lot, the fricassee should not be very golden, but just round and round, perhaps with a little color. Once sautéed, pour the flour over it and turn it again in the pan so that the flour is toasted a little and does not taste like paste.

3. Now you can add all the herbs and vegetables (except the mushrooms); and as soon as you mix it and stir well, add the liquids (broth and wine) and cook for another 25 minutes. (The white you see in the photo is the jelly from the broth):

4.It already seems to be, so I will take the chicken pieces to a plate so they do not dry, and leave the rest to cook for another 10 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thickens. (I don’t have a photo of the chicken on the plate but you can imagine that). Now you can season the stew to your liking.

5. In another frying pan and with a little boletus oil (that’s the secret of my fricassee) you will skip them until they are at their point:

5. Great, we’ve got the exact point, and a little salt won’t hurt:

6. I will pour the cream and mix it well to flavor this sauce:

7. Finally, you will add this sauce to the roasting pan, where we have the main stew, but without the chicken, which I have set aside so that it will not dry, while the sauce is reduced:

8. I mix the two sauces and pour the chicken back into the roasting pan that already has the two sauces together, and cook it a few minutes before bringing it to the table:

9. There you have this succulent dish, which I always serve with white rice, and a very personal touch, I accompany it with some asparagus if the holiday deserves it:

BON APPÉTIT AND GOOD LUCK!

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