Also known as “Old-fashioned Chicken Fricassee with Wine-flavored Cream Sauce, Onions, and Mushrooms.”
Last night, I attempted a great feat: to master the art of French cooking as guided by Julia Child. Well, at least, master one chicken dish by Julia Child. I was craving something French, as I have been for some weeks now. And being the ad-influenced consumer that I am (referring to my having seen the Julie & Julia movie recently and read the book — which I didn’t find to be as good as the movie, btw), I pulled our dusty Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 off the shelf and began to read. Now, I had limited options on what to cook given what was available in our fridge. I only had two options: chicken or beef. Since I’ve been eating a lot of red meat lately, I went with the chicken. I had chicken drumsticks, to be exact. I wanted to make it up to Hubby since he recently cooked dinner for me and a friend, while we gabbed about people falling in love in their late twenties and settling for the first great guy encounter or waiting for true love to come along (that’s another post for another day).
So back to my chicken. I didn’t want to just do a simple fry or grill. I was craving something more complex in taste, but easy to make. So, page 258 it was: the location of my first Julia Child recipe excursion. On initial read, the recipe seems straight-forward. You saute some vegetables (1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 sliced onion) in 4 tablespoons of butter, then add the chicken, turning every now and then until the chicken is “light golden yellow.” Then sprinkle the golden yellow chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, and flour. Cover and cook for another few minutes, turning once. Then add the 3 cups chicken stock, 1 cup white wine (in my case, I used vermouth, which was an option allowed by the recipe), and an herb bouquet. The recipe called for parsley, bay leaf, thyme for the herb bouquet, but I used the parsley, thyme, and rosemary since we had those fresh. After adding these ingredients in the casserole, you bring to a boil, then simmer for 25-30 minutes. My chicken immersed in delicious liquid looked like this:
While the chicken is cooking, Julia says you should make the onion and mushroom “garniture,” found on other pages of the book. To make the onion garniture, you basically take some small white onions (I just sliced an onion), butter, chicken stock, and an herb bouquet and simmer these ingredients for about 40-50 minutes. To make the mushroom garniture (basically stewed mushrooms), you simmer some mushrooms (I just used the baby bella slices), 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/3 cup water for about 5 minutes. The point of making these two dishes is for the sauce. You add it into the chicken casserole, eventually. Plus they made great side dishes. My onion and mushroom garniture looked like this:
So back to the chicken. Once the chicken drumsticks are cooked (i.e., tender when pinched. By this point the chicken should easily let your fork slide in when pricked), you need to reduce the liquid to make the sauce. You basically bring it to a boil and let some of the liquid evaporate, and the sauce starts to thicken. At this point, you can add the juices from the onion and mushroom garniture.
Once the liquid has reduced and thickened, you need to blend 2 egg yolks and 1/4 cup whipping cream in a bowl, using a wire whip. This was where I got a little stumped because the recipe stated that I should “add the hot sauce by tablespoonfuls until about a cupful has gone in” my bowl with the blended egg yolks and cream. So much for “easy to make.” I decided, after deliberating with Hubby about my options, to take turn off the stove (which had been on high so that I could reduce the liquid into a thick sauce), take out the chicken (onto another dish), and pour the remaining liquid into a measuring cup (the kind with the spout). This made it easier to “dribble” the hot sauce into the bowl. Dribbling is important because you don’t want the egg yolks to cook and curdle.
Once I blended all of the hot sauce into the egg yolk and cream blend, I poured the new mixture into the casserole and let it boil (to further thicken and reduce). Once the sauce has reduced, you can now eat dinner!
Actually, while the sauce was reducing, I made some spatzle. Once the spatzle is done and the sauce thickened and reduced, then you can eat dinner. Put some spatzle on your plate; place a couple of drumsticks on top of the spatzle, pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with parsley, and lastly, place some mushrooms and onion garniture on the plate. Complement the dish with a Cotes du Rhone or red Burgundy.
Like this one: Valreas “Cuvee Prestige” Cotes du Rhone Villages 2007, which we got at our local Trader Joe’s for about $5 or $6 bucks! It was excellent with the meal. On its own, ripe and spicy. With the dish, sweet but dry with a fruity flavor and just enough edge to highlight the vermouth in the dish.
And for its encore presentation on Lavender&Cocoa: Fricasse de Poulet L’ancienne!
I have to say that making this dish was quite stressful. There was so much to do, even though the recipe seems straight-forward. I have never used so many dishes (and pots) while cooking. Hubby said that I’d get better if I cooked more from the book. I’m sure, he’s right. Practice does make for more efficient cooking. Still, I think I will reserve the next Julia Child recipe I attempt for a weekend…when I have had a more leisurely day.