March is here, and you know what that means. Nah, forget basketball: I’m thinking of Beer Madness, which begins this week when we reveal the identities of the 32 American craft brews that made it onto this year’s bracket. We also unveil our panel of judges. And we give readers a chance to cast their own votes. Even non-drinkers like it!
Also this week, Tim Carman writes about the District’s push to overhaul the way food truck vendors collect and pay city sales taxes; and Jane Black introduces us to an Alabama barbecue boss who has become a fixture on the sustainable Southern food scene.
And, of course, today is chat day. Come one, come all to the weekly Free Range chat, our noon group hug with readers. Well, that might be taking it a little too far. But it’s one of the favorite events of our week, and we hope yours, too. Even if you haven’t managed to win one of the cookbook prizes we give away each time.
While you’re waiting for noon to arrive, here’s a leftover question from a previous chat:
My mother used to make chicken fricassee when we were sick and home from school. Fast-forward 50 years: I would like to make it. What is the difference between chicken fricassee and, say, chicken a la king? I’ve searched online and the recipes vary considerably. I seem to remember that she shredded the chicken, while the recipes I’ve found call for chicken parts. It was definitely thick and creamy. I remember a very distinctive and unusual flavor, but what? Nutmeg? Fennel? Can you offer any suggestions? It was simply the epitome of comfort food.
I get it. My mom made it, too, as did one of my college roommates whenever she was feeling homesick.
To make chicken fricassee, you generally simmer a whole or cut-up chicken in broth or water and thicken the liquid into a sauce. My understanding of chicken a la king is that it’s usually made with already-cooked, leftover chicken; you make a very thick cream sauce, add some vegetables (peas are the classic) and maybe a little sherry and you’re done. Sort of like a chicken potpie filling, without the crust.
Keep reading for two fricassee recipes. The second one is a little unconventional but certainly worth trying if you’re feeling adventurous; the first one is probably more like the one your mother made (and I’ve made a few changes in our original recipe to make it closer to what you’re after). The shredded-chicken-vs.-chicken-pieces thing is no big deal: Cook your chicken in pieces, which is what most recipes call for, then remove it from the pot, get it cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones and shred it, and return the meat it to the pot. If you let the cooked fricassee sit in the refrigerator overnight before boning, you’ll pick up more flavor.
As for the particular flavor you mentioned: sorry, I have no suggestions. Many fricassee recipes call for lemon juice. Could it be that?
Here are two Post-tested recipes for you to try.
Fricasseed Chicken With Rosemary and Lemon Juice
3- to-4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 sprig rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 thin strips of lemon zest
Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry.
Heat the oil and butter in a large, deep skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat until the butter melts and the foam subsides. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces, skin side down, being careful not to crowd the skillet. Cook, turning once, until the pieces are browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side. The chicken will not be cooked through. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to a platter while you finish browning the rest. When all of the pieces have been browned, add the rosemary and garlic to the empty skillet. Cook, stirring, for 1 minutes.
Return the chicken to the skillet. Add the wine and chicken broth and the cream, if using, plus salt and pepper to taste. Bring the liquid just to a simmer and cook for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet partially and cook, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Transfer the chicken pieces to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Discard the rosemary. If the sauce is too thin, continue cooking for a few minutes, Reduce the heat to low; add the lemon juice and zest and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve the chicken with the sauce.
Not Enough Thyme Chicken Fricassee
Nadine Brown, wine director at Charlie Palmer Steak, likes to prep weekday meals on Sundays so she can come home and just reheat them.
She prefers using bone-in chicken thighs; the bones impart flavor as the chicken cooks.
She serves this dish over quick-cooking couscous that is studded with golden raisins.
- 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (may substitute 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut lengthwise in half)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- Pinch curry powder (may substitute your favorite spice)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 14 1/2 ounces canned no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their juices
- A few sprigs thyme, plus leaves from a few sprigs for optional garnish
Trim off and discard all excess skin and visible fat from the chicken thighs. Cut the thighs in half lengthwise along the bone (so that 4 of the pieces include the bone). Place the chicken in a mixing bowl. Add the salt and pepper to taste, the soy sauce and curry powder; toss to coat evenly.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for a total of 6 to 8 minutes, turning as needed to brown it on both sides.
Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and garlic, stirring to prevent burning. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until lightly browned, then add the broth, the tomatoes and their juices and a few thyme sprigs, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot to dislodge any browned bits. Reduce the heat to medium-low; partially cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the chicken as needed to make sure it has cooked through. Discard the thyme sprigs.
Serve hot, with a few leaves of thyme sprinkled over each portion, if desired.