This French chicken fricassee recipe involves searing and simmering the meat in a flavorful braising liquid. A delicious creamy mushroom sauce is made in the same pan to bring everything together.
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Nothing is more comforting than a pot of stew simmering on the stovetop. Fricassee chicken sounds fancy, but it’s pretty simple to prepare. We can keep it our secret! It’s one of the first French chicken dishes I learned in culinary school. The term “fricassee” means to fry pieces of poultry or meat, then stew them in a sauce.
Braising is a great way to cook chicken thighs and drumsticks until they nearly fall off the bone. The flavorful mushroom sauce is thickened in several ways, with a roux, reduction, and heavy cream to finish. Pair this dish with mashed potatoes, crisp green beans, or roasted vegetables for a complete feast.
I use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, and drumsticks for the recipe. They are affordable pieces that benefit from braising. You can use all of one kind or mix them for variety. The extra fat in the dark meat and bones adds flavor to the chicken stock.
If you’d like to use chicken breasts, reduce the cooking time until it reaches 165ºF (74ºC) so the meat doesn’t dry out.
Sear the chicken
I recommend using a dutch oven or a large, heavy bottom pan to make chicken fricassee. Traditionally the chicken is not browned for fricassee but instead seared over low heat. I don’t know about you, but I prefer a flavorful skin, so I brown the chicken over medium heat in melted butter. It takes about 5 minutes on each side.
Typically clarified butter is used, removing the milk solids to increase the fat’s smoke point. If you have some, use it! Alternatively, olive oil works well too. Butter is the most flavorful and helps to accelerate surface browning.
Cook the vegetables
Saute diced onions and minced garlic in the same pan. This adds depth and a hint of sweetness to the dish. To elevate the savory taste of the stew, saute white button mushrooms. They are harvested sooner. Therefore they won’t have as strong of an umami taste as brown mushrooms.
In French cuisine, mushrooms complement the chicken and do not overpower the delicate flavor of the sauce. The extra vegetables make the dish heartier and are delicious in the sauce!
Make the sauce
To create a flavorful sauce that clings to the chicken, add flour to the mushroom mixture. Flour combines with the butter and chicken grease to make a roux. Next, deglaze the pan with wine. I use a dry white wine like sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or chardonnay.
To keep the sauce lighter in color, white wine works best. Stir the chicken stock or broth, then bring it to a boil. As the starches cook in the sauce, it lightly thickens the consistency.
Simmer the chicken
Add the seared chicken pieces back to the pot to simmer. Add in herbs like bay leaf and thyme springs. They add a wonderful herbaceous aroma. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat. The steamy enclosed environment stays at a consistent temperature, gently tenderizing the meat.
The process takes about 25 to 30 minutes. The chicken is ready when it reaches 170ºF (77ºC) on a meat thermometer. It will become even more tender the longer it braises. The fat in the dark meat helps to keep the meat juicy.
Reduce the sauce
Remove the chicken from the pot, and cover it with foil to keep it warm while finishing the sauce. Reduce the braising liquid over medium-high heat; it should be bubbling. This helps to concentrate the flavorful and evaporates moisture for a thicker consistency. The process takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the cream
To make a creamy mushroom sauce, use heavy whipping cream. It contains at least 36% fat, adding a velvety texture to the sauce. Reduce the sauce over medium heat for about 5 minutes to make it thicker. If you don’t have cream, stirring in cream cheese, creme fraiche or sour cream works well too.
I add nutmeg for a hint of sweetness and spice. If you like a tangy citrus taste, squeeze in lemon juice. Add the chicken back to the pot to warm it up before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley or herbs like tarragon, chives, thyme, or oregano.
Serve this with
- Mashed potatoes
- Crispy roasted potatoes
- Sauteed green beans
- Roasted Brussels sprouts
- Homemade crusty bread
Frequently asked questions
Fricassee is a type of stew that uses large pieces of chicken instead of small pieces that are entirely submerged in gravy like a traditional stew. This makes it a hybrid cooking technique since the pieces aren’t completely covered.
Boneless or bone-in chicken breasts can be used for the recipe. Simmer just until the meat reaches 165ºF ( 74ºC). Check around 20 minutes, adding more time as needed.
It combines chicken stock, the juices from the simmered meat, white wine, flour, butter, herbs like bay leaf and thyme, nutmeg, and heavy whipping cream.
Yes! You can add pieces of potatoes, carrots, or celery while the chicken is simmering. This will help tenderize the meat and vegetables at the same time.
What’s the benefit of braising dark-meat chicken?
Braising is a combination of dry-heat and moist-heat cooking. The chicken thighs and drumsticks sear in fat to add flavor to the surface, then simmer in chicken stock. Cooking in liquid helps to dissolve any connective tissue and collagen, transforming it into gelatin. The result is a sauce with body and flavor, with extremely tender meat.
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- 2 ½ pounds bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks, 8 pieces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 cup diced yellow onions, ½" dice
- 1 pound white mushrooms, halved
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock
- 3 springs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
- Prepare the Chicken – Trim any excess skin and fat from the chicken thighs. Dry the surface with a paper towel. Generously season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Sear the Chicken – Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Melt the butter, then add the chicken. Sear each side until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Cook the Aromatics – Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Saute until tender, about 2 minutes.
- Make the Sauce – Add the flour, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, and stir to deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove the browned bits. Stir in the chicken stock, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until lightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Braise the Chicken – Add the chicken, skin side up to the pan. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken reaches 170ºF (77ºC), about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Reduce the Sauce – Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, and cover to keep warm. Discard the sprig and bay leaf. Bring the stock to a boil over medium-high heat, reducing to thicken, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the Cream – Stir in the cream and nutmeg. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- To Serve – Add the chicken back to the pan to warm for about 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Microwave on high setting in 30-second increments until hot. Alternatively, cook in a pan over medium heat until hot.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch with ¼ cup of water. Add after reducing the stock, and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.
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2 Comments Leave a comment or review
Patti Witzgall says
Can I make this recipe with bone in chicken breast (and thighs).
Jessica Gavin says
Yes, you can use bone-in chicken breast! You’ll need to add more time to ensure that the meat is fully cooked.