Cast Iron

Chicken Fricassee With Mushrooms & Thyme

November 23, 2021
5 Stars
Photo by Melina Hammer
Author Notes

This one-pan, all-stovetop meal is a comfort food winner. Traditionally, French fricassée is a lightly sautéed mixture of meat and vegetables, cooked into a creamy stew. I firmly believe that most foods taste better once they’ve been seared golden—so in this version, I burnish chicken pieces until the skin is rendered crispy. (Starting with a whole chicken means you’ll have extra parts—the back and wings—for freezing and making stock later on.) Then punchy aromatics like garlic, nutmeg, bay leaves, and thyme round out a brothy cream sauce. If you don’t have a deep enough skillet for a lid to tightly cover the pan once the chicken is added, you can use a Dutch oven instead.

This long-loved braise appears in many cultures in many forms. In Puerto Rico, pollo en fricasé features a tomato-based sauce. There’s even a Jewish version dating back to the 17th century that uses offal, according to Gil Marks' Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Once you have the basic cooking rhythm down, use this recipe as a lift-off to play around with the ingredients and make it your own. Say, ruffly kale instead of broccoli, or peppy dill instead of parsley. No matter what riffs you choose, this chicken fricassée is terrific spooned atop warm rice, couscous, or potatoes. —Melina Hammer

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • makes 1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken
Ingredients
  • 1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces small cremini mushrooms, larger ones halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 7 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups (about 5 ounces) broccoli florets
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
  • Cooked rice, couscous, or potatoes, for serving (optional)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Break down the chicken into thighs, drumsticks, and breasts. Halve the breasts crosswise. (Refrigerate or freeze the back and wings for making stock later on.) Pat the chicken dry. Arrange the chicken parts on a tray, skin side up, and season with kosher salt.
  2. In a large cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Once the foaming subsides, add the chicken skin side down, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 7 minutes, until the skin is crispy and golden (reserve the tray).
  3. Flip the chicken, cook for 1 minute more, then return the pieces to the tray skin side up. Add the onion, scraping the bottom of the pan to free up any browned bits. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until softened and translucent.
  4. Scoot the onions to the cool side of the pan, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the butter. Once it’s melted, add the mushrooms and stir to coat in the butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring the mushrooms occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned.
  5. Add the garlic and nutmeg; season with kosher salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute more.
  6. Stir in the wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring constantly, for 15 seconds. Add the thyme leaves and bay leaves, followed by the stock, and stir. Nestle in the chicken pieces, skin side up, along with any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat if needed to maintain a steady simmer rather than a vigorous boil. Cover the pan and cook for 12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  7. Uncover and transfer the chicken pieces to a platter or plate. Stir in the cream. Uncovered, bring the liquid to a simmer and let reduce for about 3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the broccoli and return the chicken to the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green and just-tender. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and scatter the parsley on top, if using. Serve with rice, couscous, or potatoes, as you like.

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When she's not writing, cooking, styling, and shooting her forthcoming cookbook - out Spring 2022 with Ten Speed Press - Melina makes food look its best for the New York Times, Eating Well, Edible, and other folks who are passionate about real food. She grows heirloom+native plants and forages wild foods at her Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. There, Melina prepares curated menus to guests seeking community, amidst the robust flavors of the seasons.

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