Chicken Fricassee with Greek Green Beans

Julia Child always cooked by the mantra of "no apologies and no excuses." When it comes to cooking, not everything is going to turn out the way you want it to. I think art mimics life in this respect and I hope all you home cooks out there remember this each time you test your skills in the kitchen. I used to apologize for dishes before anyone even tasted it! I would say it was too salty, not seasoned enough, not crispy enough, looked nothing like the picture or even worse, that it was terrible. When I read Julia's memoir, the lesson of not making excuses for the food you are preparing and being proud of everything, regardless of the outcome was what stuck with me the most. This dish is one of those that I think needs another shot presentation-wise, but flavor-wise it was so yummy. Chicken Fricassee is a classic French dish that uses garlic, vinegar and tomatoes to give chicken a punch. The photo for this recipe, in one of my favorite books, looks amazing and yet I was surprised by how different mine looked when it was finished. But before I wrote off the recipe and started making excuses, I served it and enjoyed. The taste kept my mouth closed and the recipe in rotation.  So no excuses tonight, no apologies, even a not so perfect meal is still a lovingly made home cooked one.

Chicken Fricassee with Garlic and Red Wine Vinegar
Bon Appetit Y'All, Virginia Willis, 2008
serves 4 to 6

1 (4 to 5 lb) chicken cut into pieces (boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be subbed, see note below)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil (I used vegetable oil)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed (just give it one good whack with the side of your knife, using your fist)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 (15 oz) can whole tomatoes, crushed, with liquid (crush with your hands in the can)
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs flat leaf parsley
2 sprigs thyme

To cook the chicken, season with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a large, straight-sided skillet or saucepan (no cast iron). Add the chicken, skin side down, without crowding the pan. Cook without crowding until a rich, golden brown on both sides, 3 to 5 min per side. (trick is to leave it alone as much as possible!) Remove chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the vinegar and scrape with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Return the chicken to the skillet. Add the tomatoes with their liquid, chicken stock, bay leaf, parsley and thyme. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear, an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

To make the sauce, remove the chicken pieces to a warm serving dish, tent with foil. Increase the heat to high, and cook the sauce until reduced and lightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the herbs. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Note: You can make with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Adjust simmering time with sauce to just 8 to 10 minutes, until juices run clear. Remove breasts and tent with foil, once cooked through. Continue to simmer sauce until vegetables are tender and sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Return chicken to the sauce and finish as directed in third paragraph.

Greek Green Beans
Forks & Amusement 2011
serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 lb haricots verts (thin green beans, thinnest you can find), trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
15 black kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
red wine vinegar
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a large bowl with ice and water. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well and pat dry. Put the pot back on the stove over medium heat and heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds, making sure not to burn it. Return the beans to the pot, along with the tomatoes and olives. Toss everything together and transfer to serving dish until just heated through. Drizzle with the vinegar, toss with the cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Can be served warm, room temp or cold.


1 comment:

virginia willis said...

Thanks so much for including me on your blog!
I am glad you liked the recipes. I wonder about why they looked so different... Shoot me a note if you have any questions.
Many thanks once again. Bon Appetit, Y'all!
Virginia Willis

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