Cast Iron

Chicken Fricassee With Mushrooms & Thyme

November 23, 2021
13 Ratings
Photo by Melina Hammer
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • makes 1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken
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

What You'll Need
  • 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)
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • amy mealey
    amy mealey
  • Melina Hammer
    Melina Hammer
  • SassyQ
  • yzerhouni
Melina is the author of 'A Year at Catbird Cottage' with Ten Speed Press. She grows an heirloom and pollinator garden and forages wild foods at her namesake Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. Melina loves serving curated menus for guests from near and far seeking community amidst the hummingbirds, grosbeaks, finches, and the robust flavors of the seasons.

18 Reviews

amy M. December 21, 2022
This was very good. We added roasted carrots instead of the brocolli.
Melina H. December 21, 2022
Great to hear it. That sounds equally delicious, and that's the whole idea - riff on what you have available, or to what suits you. :)
SassyQ December 14, 2022
I doubled the mushrooms, added 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Chicken and did 4 large Bone in Skin on thighs. (Only 2 of in home). Everything else the same. It was absolutely amazing. Will be made again and again
Melina H. December 21, 2022
Lovely to hear this! Sounds so good. I think doubling the mushrooms is a mantra where you can never go wrong.
yzerhouni December 7, 2022
Very tasty especially on a winter night. The broccoli flavor took away from the flavors built up in the sauce. Next time will probably skip the broccoli and make it with more mushrooms or maybe spinach instead to add a green.
Melina H. December 21, 2022
I love broccoli, but certainly this should be something you adapt to suit your tastes. More mushrooms is always great, and spinach is an easy winner. Yum.
arbeenyc December 2, 2022
Would like to try this recipe because I love braised chicken. But if one were using thighs and legs (not breasts) would 12 minutes really be sufficient? Most recipes I've seen (and used) call for about 45m to 1 hour cooking time after browning.
Melina H. December 2, 2022
This recipe calls for 1 whole chicken and uses the two drumsticks and thighs, along with the breasts. It works as-is, so I think you could swap for additional thighs and legs without issue. One key to this recipe is searing the meat hard at the beginning, which both establishes burnished skin, as well as cook the pieces fairly far along. I hope you try this and it works out great for you!
Anne M. December 1, 2022
Loved the recipe. Would like to use it for a dinner party so am wondering what you would think about completing the recipe through the browning and sauce, putting it in a large Dutch oven to rest, and the finishing it in the oven when guests arrive?
Melina H. December 2, 2022
So happy you love it. To avoid the chicken becoming steamed from the cooking liquid, or the high sides or lid of the Dutch oven, I recommend transferring the pieces to a tray or sheet pan, large enough to situate them all in a single layer, and leave them uncovered (transfer it to the fridge if you plan to entertain the next day, or many hours later). Then reheat the chicken on the sheet pan in a preheated 400º oven as the sauce comes back to bubbling on the stovetop. Nestle them onto the sauce mixture as you plan to serve, et voilà. Hope it's a smash hit!
RHG September 18, 2022
Hi! I’ve been trying to eliminate dairy due to my daughters sensitivity to it. Is there a recommended substitute? Maybe canned coconut milk?
Melina H. September 19, 2022
You could certainly try that. I’d like to know how it works out if you do. I wonder if there’s a vegan cream (such as cashew cream, etc) that might even be a closer swap... I hope it works out for you!
RHG September 25, 2022
Thank you so much for your response. I need to try this one again. Yummy flavors. Came out a little Thai inspired with the coconut milk. Unfortunately my little one has a cashew allergy but I bet that would be a great fit.
jcgettle May 3, 2022
Love, love, love this recipe! I made it almost weekly all winter. My husband doesn’t like broccoli, so I left it out and just doubled the mushrooms. Easy, delectable recipe with an addictive sauce that goes beautifully over mashed potatoes.
Melina H. May 3, 2022
That is so great to hear. Thank you for telling me! You can never go wrong with more mushrooms. If you wanted to riff on a variation, try adding cauliflower or carrots (par-cooked), or arugula or spinach. Sounds like it’s a repertoire favorite - the best!
Jennifer P. January 12, 2022
This was delicious and my family thought the same. I used drumsticks and substituted kale for broccoli because that's what I had on hand. I did stir in a dollop of dijon at the end because I like that flavor profile. We had it with rice and I would most definitely make it again.
Melina H. January 16, 2022
That all sounds delicious. Yay :)
RE December 1, 2021
This is one tasty dish! I don't ever use alcohol, so I subbed apple cider vinegar and wow such flavor. Melty onions, buttery mushrooms…so good. The only reason I didn't give 5 stars is because the cook times for the chicken are too short.