Chicken and Andouille Fricassée
June 29, 2013
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The best everyday meal, in my opinion, is humble food cooked simply. Fricassée in its pure form surely fits that bill. Before it was elaborated and refined by 19th and 20th century chefs and cookbook authors into a complicated and overly rich chicken stew, it was a simple one-pot meal dating back at least to the 1400s. The ingredients would be whatever meats and vegetables were at hand, cooked slowly in an iron cauldron over an open fire, and eaten with a spoon. The key to a good fricassee is to build it up in the pot. Start with the meats, add the aromatics, then a bit of liquid, some root vegetables, and finally, perhaps, some fresh beans or peas. If you make this dish, do not slavishly duplicate what I have done. Choose ingredients to your own taste and pantry. But do observe the sequence of steps. To my mind they are what makes the meal.
1 or 2 Andouille or other smoked sausage links
2 chicken breasts or 3 chicken thighs
2 stalks celery
1 small bell pepper or 2 medium carrots—or both
Several cloves garlic
3 or 4 medium boiling potatoes, peeled or not
Green beans, about 100 g or 1 cup
Olive oil, butter, or other cooking fat of your choice
A small handful of fresh herbs—I used tarragon, rosemary, savory, and parsley
250 ml (1 cup) white wine and 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock or two cups of either
Salt and pepper
Cut the sausage into 6 mm (¼ inch) slices and the chicken into 25 mm (1 inch) cubes. Set aside in separate bowls.
Dice the onion, celery, and the pepper and/or carrots. Set aside in the same bowl. Mince the garlic and keep separate.
Cut the potatoes into 20 mm (¾ inch) cubes and set aside.
If need be, string and trim the green beans and set those aside as well.
Put a small amount of oil into large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the sausage until lightly browned. Add the chicken and brown well—about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat down to medium. Adjust the fat in the pot by adding a bit more oil if needed or by pouring the excess if there is too much. There should be about 30 ml (2 Tablespoons) of fat. Add the aromatics—onion, celery, etc. Sauté until softened—8 minutes or so. Stir in the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Toss in the herbs then pour in the liquids, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze it.
Spread the potatoes on top of the ingredients in the pot and bring the broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are nearly done. Add the green beans to the pot, recover, and allow them to steam for about 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and turn the heat to medium-high and let the liquid concentrate for about 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste and serve with crusty bread—and large spoons.