Chicken fricassée (#76)

I’ve wandered back briefly to French cuisine for you today. Oddly, I wouldn’t quite say I’ve made a fricassée before, although as it is defined as meat cooked in a white sauce I’ve definitely made food along the lines of a fricassée countless times.

Fun fact, this was a favourite dish of Abraham Lincoln. Obviously, not the Nigella recipe, unless time has bent by 150 years, but still, it’s a little nugget of information that was reason alone for me to give it a go. Thanks goes to At My Table.

Cast your eyes over to the ‘bad things’, and you’ll see that on the ingredients list is vacuum-packed chestnuts. I’d had my eye on this recipe for a while (at this rate I’ve basically cooked most of the book anyway), but I felt that this one was practically impossible until I started getting my food delivered. Ultimately, not sure I’ve ever seen these on the shelves, and if they are stocked, where? (You might find them with the stuffings, I’ll keep my eyes peeled.)

Nevertheless, I bought the Porter Foods one from Waitrose, which are exactly the right size for the recipe. Let’s face it, Nigella clearly shops at Waitrose. Both Sainbury’s and Tesco sell Merchant Gourmet chestnuts, but the pack is slightly smaller.

Having banged on enough about where to find chestnuts, I do want to say that this makes me happy because this is at least a new ingredients that I have never cooked with before. And the end result is still a winner.

Good things: The marsala and porcini give this white sauce such a gorgeous flavour.

Bad things: vacuum-packed chestnuts as an ingredient? lol. Trying to get ingredients like this is why I get my food delivered now…

Ingredients & requirements: a

  • 175ml of marsala
  • 5g of dried porcini
  • 50g of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes
  • good grating of nutmeg
  • good grating of pepper
  • 500g of chicken thigh fillets
  • 50g of unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 large leek
  • 5 teaspoons of dred thyme
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • 200g of vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • basmati rice

Preparation & cooking

Preparation

  1. Drop 5g of dried porcini into a small saucepan, then measure out 175ml of masala in a Pyrex jug before adding that to the pan. Bring to a boil, and the moment it bubbles turn off the heat. Leave for at least 10 mins, but basically until you’re ready to turn your attention to it later on in this recipe.
  2. Prepare 500ml of chicken stock. You can buy this pre-prepared, or like me you need to get this ready on the hob with hot water and a stock cube or two beforehand.
  3. Add the following to a medium bowl (easy to measure it out), before adding to a sizeable freezer bag, sealing it and shaking it up:
    1. 50g of plain flour
    2. 1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes
    3. good grating of nutmeg
    4. good grating of pepper
  4. Now get the chipping board out. First, trim and slice 1 large leek, and set aside in a bowl (can reuse the old flour bowl if you want).
  5. Next, open up the 200g of vacuum-packed chestnuts. I’d give them the roughest of chops before setting them aside in another medium bowl.
  6. Now get out around 500g of chicken thigh fillets, and I’d cut each up into approx. 5-6 pieces each. Then add it them to the freezer bag and it give it a good mush up so the flour mixture coats the chicken pieces.
  7. I’d wait until the porcini is ready, the get out out a jug and a sieve. Drain the poricni over the jug, reserving the marsala. Finely chop up the porcini and just leave it on the board (you can use a smaller separate chopping board if you’re not keen on re-using the chopping board you used for the chicken).

Cooking

  1. Get out a deep saucepan or casserole. Put on a medium heat and melt the 50g of butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Then add the 1 sliced leek and stir frequently for 4-5 mins.
  2. Then add the chopped porcini and the 5 teaspoon of dried thyme. Stir well.
  3. Turn the heat up and add the chicken pieces from the bag, and stir until the flour is no longer visible.
  4. Now add the following in this order, giving a good stir after you add each:
    1. The marsala from the jug.
    2. Most of 500ml of chicken stock, but reserve a small amount for later on should you need it.
    3. The 200g of chopped chestnuts.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium. Continually, if lightly, stir the mixture for 10 mins, and the sauce should thicken.
  6. Then turn the heat just a little lower, before leaving to simmer for a good 20 mins. Don’t let it catch though. (During this stage consider planning your basmati rice in your preferred manner).
  7. Once the chicken pieces are cooked through, you should be ready to go. You can add some chicken stock if you think it’s a bit too thick. Serve over the basmati and get eating!

Reflections:

I still think that the chestnuts are an interesting texture to get used to, but the flavours are superb on this one. Apologies for the photo on this one. I promise you that the colours are acceptable, and actually quite attractive, to eat in real life. I don’t think I’ll be winning food picture of the year anytime soon.

I don’t think I’ll be serving it at a dinner party anytime soon. There’s just a bit too much prep required in a relatively short period of time before eating for my personal pref, especially when I’d already be halfway through a bottle of bubbly and too busy talking my head off to actually get this done in decent time. But still, a great work luncheon the next day for me!

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