Chicken Fricassee (Fricassee de Poulet a L'Ancienne)

Photo: Tara Donne
Prep Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins

The original French comfort food, chicken fricassée is a classic—with as many variations as there are grandmothers in France. It's halfway between a sauté and a stew, simmered chicken with hearty vegetables in a rich, silky sauce. The dish relies on humble ingredients and is made in just a single pot. Traditionally it's served over rice, creamy mashed potatoes, or lightly buttered egg noodles. You'll also want to have a loaf of crusty bread on hand to sop up the extra sauce.


  • 1 whole chicken (3 ½ to 4 pounds), cut into 11 pieces (reserve back and wing tips for another use, such as stock)

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (1 cup)

  • 1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch dice (½ cup)

  • 1 celery stalk, cut into ¼-inch dice (⅓ cup)

  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • cup dry white wine

  • 4 cups chicken broth

  • 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature

  • ¼ cup heavy cream

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon leaves

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Brown Chicken
    Season chicken on both sides with 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Preheat a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and the oil to pot. When butter melts and foam subsides, add half the chicken, skin side down, in a single layer; do not crowd pot. (If butter begins to blacken, lower heat.) Fry chicken, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes total, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

  2. Saute Mirepoix
    Reduce heat to medium, and add mirepoix (onion, carrot, and celery) to pot, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Saute mirepoix, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown in places, 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Cook Mushrooms and Flour
    Add mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms darken, become glossy, and begin to release liquid, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in flour, and cook until flour is absorbed by vegetables and is no longer visible, about 1 minute.

  4. Pour in Wine and Broth
    Add wine to pot, and bring to a boil, stirring until liquid just thickens, about 45 seconds. Add broth, and stir.

  5. Simmer Chicken
    Place chicken, skin side up, in a single layer on vegetables; pour juices that have accumulated on plate into pot. Tie parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf together with kitchen twine; add to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover partially. Cook until internal temperature of thickest part of chicken registers 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a clean plate. Simmer liquid, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Discard herbs.

  6. Make and Add Liaison
    To make the liaison (sauce thickener), whisk together egg yolks and cream in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, pour 1/2 cup cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, into liaison to temper it. Stir tempered liaison into pot.

  7. Finish with Tarragon, Lemon, and Butter
    Return chicken to pot. Add tarragon, lemon juice, and the remaining butter. Bring to a simmer, stir gently to combine, and serve.

Cook's Notes

Have your butcher cut the breast in half, keeping the wings attached but removing the wing tips.

Cook's Notes

Fricassee can be made one day in advance -- just leave out the tarragon until you're ready to serve the meal. Let fricassee cool completely in the pot, and then refrigerate it. Before serving, simmer the fricassee over medium heat, uncovered, until hot, and stir in the tarragon.

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