Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. ~ CK Chesterton

Howdy Yall! It's time to lick your lips and drool as we discuss yummy vittles and Texas testaments to taste!

I hope you enjoy your time with us. Please be sure to drop by and leave a message or a hello. We want to know how to better serve you!

~Blue Zebra

Monday, August 27, 2007

What In The Fricassee Have You Done With My Chicken? Chicken Stew Secrets Revealed

Ok so what do you do with a hundred pound chicken? It sounds like the opener to a cheesy joke, doesn’t it? But for those of you who took the time to read The Naked Truth About Hens, you will know I’m almost 100% entirely, serious…Well, maybe I’m only about 20% serious, but I did learn one thing much to our chagrin. Clearly, you do not roast a hundred pound chicken, unless you love foul fowl. I found that out quite unequivocally.

The voice in my head mocks me and I hear it reverberate again and again. What do you do with a hundred pound chicken-chicken-chicken? In desperation I answer the voice now shouting in the recesses of my aching brain, “The answer isfrick, frick, frick, fricassee! You cook the paprikash out of that bird and if that doesn’t work, you smother the little clucker till it makes a sauce piquant! If that still isn’t good enough, then you let it stew in its own juice!” Deep breath. Breathe. At last, the whining voice resides.

Long, slow, moist heat isn’t really much of a secret. Most people who have been cooking any length of time, or have alternately watched one season of FoodTV know low, slow and wet is guaranteed to break down the ropey muscle fibers of a tough cut of meat. But how do you add the flavor to that meat or chicken, in this case?

Growing up, Mom used to make a very traditional Southern dish called smothered chicken. Oh my, I still smack my lips thinking about it! She’d bread and fry the chicken pieces until golden outside but still raw inside. Then she made a roux the color of caramel or not-quite-pecan and added onion, bell pepper and celery (the Cajun trinity, don’t ya know), water and chicken and let it simmer for hours. Mom served it over rice with a side of cornbread and turnip greens. You almost couldn’t beat this dish for pure cold weather comfort food!

If you add Cajun spice and a healthy dose of cayenne “peppah”, pepper sauce, jalapenos and tomatoes you go from a simple smother to a sauce piquant, pronounced sauce pee-cawnt, in a hurry! This is a lively Cajun version of a smother that just rocks my world, completely! The sauce piquant works great for ordinary chicken but it reaches nirvana when you use it to stew dove or rabbit. Paul Prudhomme’s recipe elevates it to celestial. It's so fine. It will seriously make you want to sit up and "slap yor mamma"!

Aromatics like a mirapoix (French trinity), a mixture of onion, celery and carrot is another way to add flavor to stew. Seasoning the chicken pieces with herbs and spices is yet, one more way. Still more secrets to flavorful and tender chicken stews include browning the meat prior to cooking in liquid, making a dark roux, adding acids such as wine, vinegar and mustards or you could just do what we did to tame our hundred pound bird, you could do all of the above!

The end result for our hundred pound chicken was tasty, tender, chicken meat in a rich brown, paprika flavored gravy that had a bite of mustard and lingering mellowness of wine with a slight zip of cayenne to wake up your taste buds. I knew immediately it deserved to be accompanied by homemade spaetzle. Lucky for me it was comfort food on crack. Unlucky for you, you weren’t here to sample it, because like most brown and cream colored foods, pictures just can’t possibly do it justice.

I heartily recommend you try fricasseein' the devil outta your hundred pound chicken, soon!

Chicken Fricassee aka Chicken Paprikash
By Blue Zebra
Serves 8

1 100lb Chicken (hehehe) Carcass with Legs, Thighs and Wings (everything but the breasts)*
½ Quart Brown Pan Gravy
1 Large Medium Onion
1 Green Pepper
2 Stalks Celery
1 Carrot, Large
5 Cloves Garlic
1 Quart Chicken Stock
1 tsp Thyme, dried leaves
1-1/2 Tbsp Paprika
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Country Style Dijon
½ Bottle White Wine
1 Quart Mushrooms
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
½ cup Sour Cream

*Recipe Note- Ok, if you don't have a hundred pound chicken, use an 8# chicken. If you still don't have one of those, use the carcasses and dark meats from two broilers or fryers or use wings, necks and dark meat to equal about 3-4 pounds of chicken meat. If you haven't previously roasted this meat, you will need to season and thoroughly brown the meat in a saute pan or roast it with veggies in the oven. I recommend roasting it in order to fully develop the brown layer of flavor in this recipe. Make sure to use extra veggies and not the ones listed in this recipe. The ones listed here are for the final compilation of the stew. This can be done the day ahead.

Remove the skin from the cooked chicken. Separate into pieces. Chop veggies and add with chicken to Dutch oven. Add Mustard, wine and seasonings. Let simmer on very low heat. Do not boil, you want the liquid to barely move. Simmer for 1-1/2 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove carcass and chicken pieces and cover with foil. Let it cool enough to pull meat off bones and chop.

While chicken is cooling, turn up the heat so that the simmer of the liquid becomes more active. You still don’t want it to actively boil. Cook uncovered and allow the sauce to reduce. The sauce will thicken as it reduces because of the flour added to the brown gravy. If it looks too thin to you, you can always mix a couple of tablespoons of flour with a little extra wine and shake it up in a container until smooth. Pour thickener into liquid, stirring constantly to combine. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes to allow the flour to cook and for the sauce to thicken from the addition. Adding flour suspended in a liquid usually eliminates any clumping.

Add diced chicken meat back to the liquid in the final five to ten minutes of cooking. Heat through and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve over noodles, macaroni, spaetzle, rice, mashed potatoes…well, serve over just about anything carbalicious and starchy! You can even serve it over homemade bread in a pinch. Sprinkle with a touch of paprika and a little fresh chopped parsley.

Blue Zebra NOTE:
I served this like a Hungarian meal would be served: sweet and sour cabbage with caraway seeds, cinnamon applesauce, homemade spaetzle and homemade bread with butter. Not exactly what I would call a summer meal, nor a light meal, either. But necessity dictates. So, the good news is this freezes beautifully. We ate it and froze the rest in vacuum seal bags and now have chicken fricassee aka chicken paprikash aka that-chicken-stuff aka chicken stew primed and ready in our deep freeze and just waiting for Jack Frost to make his first appearance!

This stew can also be made using the wing tips from chickens you trim and with legs and thighs only, making this extremely economical. This whole meal with all the side dishes costs about $.85 per serving when made that way. Now, that’s the REAL secret to chicken stew!


Kristen said...

I LOVE your new look. Love it, love it, love it! Very cool.
I also love this dish. I'm going to have to try it out when the weather turns a little cooler. I love the price tag too. You can't beat that!

Blue Zebra said...

Thanks Kristen! It's all because of you! :D The dish was made out of necessity lol. NO WAY would I recommend making this in the height of August/Sept! I must be mad!!! But I didn't want the underdone thighs and legs to go to waste. *gulp* So I sweated my way through it! But it is a very tasty dish! And cheap as chips! :D

lynn said...

Cheap and tasty? That's my kind of cooking!

Thanks for the awesome green tomato recipes. I will probably need to try them because still not even a hint of red on my ornery tomatoes. Grrrr!

Blue Zebra said...

Hi Lynn, I'm usually all about the economy of cooking. :D It always astounds me how little it costs to eat a great meal when you make it yourself.

Also, I did get hold of the green tomato jam recipe if you are interested let me know!

Saying mater prayers for you! :D

Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I'd like the green tomato jam recipe as well!~
Not that we mean to hijack your blog.
I'll save the fricassee for cooler weather.

Blue Zebra said...

Hi Sandi and Lynn, I'm in the process of collecting some green tomato recipes for you including the jam and will make a new blog post with them! Thanks for your feedback and request! I love doing these types of things. Watch for it soon, ok?

sher said...

Ahhh, chicken stew! Sniff! Now I'm homesick for the South. We never let heat keep us from making that!!! We drank sweet tea and thought pretty things.

Blue Zebra said...

Hahahahaha Sher! I love the, "We drank iced tea and thought pretty thoughts!" :D A true Southern mentality if I ever heard one. B calls us DSFWs (Delicate Flowers of Southern Womanhood) :D Hope you will try this. It's kinda more Paprikash than Fricassee but just ease off the paprika and maybe up the thyme or basil and voila! You have stew or Fricassee. It would be great with a batch or rolled dumplings in it!!! :D