Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sautéed Chicken vs. Chicken Fricassée!

These two techniques are almost identical and are both FEVI (Fairly Easy, but Very Impressive) dishes to serve. Sautéing chicken produces a juicy meat with a lovely sauce. A Fricassée, after lightly sautéing, then stews the chicken in broth and/or some vegetables which will infuses the meat with rich and intense flavors. The chicken cooks all the way through, becoming very tender and falling off the bone. A few of the same secrets will make either technique a sure fire success. I have included my favorite recipe for each. Please be sure to read the secrets first because I have not repeated them in the instructions. 

Secret #1
The chicken pieces must be at room temperature when you sauté them or the skin will break and fall away from the meat. Pat dry and let rest on paper towels for at least an hour before cooking.

Secret #2
Do not crowd the pan. Chicken pieces need a bit of room in between them to sauté correctly, but not too much or the fat in the empty space will burn. Leave just enough space so that they are not touching one another. If you need to fill the holes use pieces of chicken that you will not serve (neck or back but not the liver). If there is too much to avoid crowding, then cook the chicken in batches. 

Secret #3
White meat cooks faster than dark meat. So take the breast out 3-5 minutes (depending upon the size) earlier than the dark meat.  If you are cooking in batches, cook them separately and cook the dark meat 3-5 minutes more than the breasts.

Secret #4
Warm your oven to 200F so that you can place the chicken and vegetables in the oven to keep them warm while reducing the sauce.

Secret #5
You must not walk away from the stove while reducing the sauce! (If you need to do something. remove the skillet from hot burner until you come back. You will pick it up where you left off.). Remove chicken and vegetables and keep warm. If you have more than a cup or so of liquid, take some out and reserve. Put up the heat and boil. While boiling it will reduce and thicken. Once it gets a bit thick, add the liquid back in small quantities so that it is reabsorbed into the thickened sauce. If you need more liquid, add additional chicken stock ¼ cup at a time until you have the amount of sauce you need. If this does not work for you, you can thicken with a tablespoon of cornstarch that has been mixed with two tablespoons of boiling water or stock.

Secret #6
Both techniques produce a lovely sauce so the chicken should be served with a starch (mashed potatoes, rice or orzo) that will absorb the delicious flavors of the sauce.

Gerard’s Wine Suggestions:
Sautéed Chicken: Despite the use of white wine in the cooking, we recommend a red wine with this dish. A Vin de Pays d’Oc - Paul Mas Estate 2008, blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. A very nice table wine with appealing “terroir”.  $14.99
Fricassée: The stewed tomatoes in this dish require a wine with tannins and acidity. Gerard chose 2010 Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais Villages Nouveau. 100% Gamay,. $11.99
Special pick for either dish: Présidial 2009 from Jean-Luc Thuvenin, a Brilliant ready-to-drink Bordeaux.  Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, made by Jean Luc Thuvenin, (he started the “garage movement” in Bordeaux in 1989).  A classic Bordeaux! Experts agree that 2009 is going to be one of the greatest Bordeaux vintages of our lifetimes! Don’t miss it! $18.99
Wines available at Pine Plains Fine Wine & Spirits – 518-398-7633 - 20% discount for one case mix and match.

LouLou’s Sauté of Chicken with Shallots
Serves 4
6-8 Pieces of Chicken (at room temperature)
6 -8 Shallots (peeled and separated into any sections)
1 Cup of White Wine
Salt (kosher) & Pepper
5 Tablespoons of Margarine
Heat 5 tablespoons of margarine in a skillet. When hot, brown the chicken on fairly high heat.  (This should take about 5 minutes for the skin /exposed meat to become golden brown – but not burnt). Add the shallots on top of chicken parts and kosher salt. for about 5 minutes. They should cook and brown a bit.  Add pepper. Add thyme. Add wine (enough to have 1/3 of the height of the chicken in liquid). Cover. Let simmer for 30 minutes.  Check every few minutes to ensure that there is some liquid in the pan. If not add ¼ cup of water, each time. Turn pieces over to cook evenly. When chicken is done, remove it and shallots from pan (keep warm). If you need more sauce add another ¼ cup of wine or chicken stock and reduce while scraping the bottom of the pan. Place on warm platter, nap sauce over chicken and shallots.

Fricassée of Chicken with Mushrooms
Serves 4
6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil (not a first cold press)
6-8 Pieces of Chicken (at room temperature)
¼  Cup of Flour
1 lb of Fresh Mushrooms
1 Can of Stewed Tomatoes (Del Monte-Italian Style)
Salt, Pepper
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped Parsley
Rinse the mushrooms and pat dry. Trim and separate caps from stems. Cut caps in halves or quarters if large. Dredge chicken pieces in flour. Heat half of the olive oil in a skillet until hot but not smoking. Sauté the chicken pieces until they are brown on all sides. Carefully regulate the heat to avoid scorching.  In a separate skillet heat the remaining olive oil and add mushroom caps and stems, stirring occasionally until brown (5-6 minutes). When chicken is browned, add mushrooms and stewed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium low. Cook covered for about 20 minutes.  Turn the pieces and cook uncovered  for another 10 minutes. Remove chicken and mushrooms from skillet and keep warm while you reduce the sauce. Place chicken on a warm serving platter. Nap some sauce over each piece and sprinkle with the parsley. Pour remaining sauce into a gravy boat.

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