Chicken Fricassee with Meatballs

This is an old family recipe. The only time I’ve seen something like this in print was in Mimi Sheraton’s From My Mother’s Kitchen. It turns out that she and I grew up in the same neighborhood and even attended the same high school, although we didn’t know each other. Given the similarities of the two recipes, I would venture a guess that our families probably came from a similar neighborhood in the old country.

When I was cooking at home for my family. I used to make this with chicken parts with bones and skin. However, as time is always of the essence. I now make this with boneless chicken breasts.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, grated (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon each minced fresh sage, marjoram, and parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup (or as needed) mild olive oil
  • 4 whole chicken breasts (about 1 pound each), boned, skinned, split, and cut into 1½- to 2-inch chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups diced onions
  • 5 cups sliced mushrooms (half chanterelles, if possible)
  • cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

Method

Procedure

For the meatballs, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands until blended, or briefly pulse in a food processor to blend. Form into 24 tiny meatballs. (These may be prepared ahead and refrigerated on a baking sheet until needed.)

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over high heat. Add the meatballs and sauté until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 3 more tablespoons olive oil in the same large pan over high heat. Add as much chicken as will comfortably fit in the pan without crowding and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding oil to the pan as necessary, until all of the chicken has been cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat 2 more tablespoons oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Set aside with the chicken.

Heat 2 more tablespoons oil over high heat in the same pan. Add the mushrooms and cook quickly until they are tender and release some of their juices, about 5 minutes. Return the chicken, onions, and meatballs to the pan. Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until all is heated through. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs and serve with rice, or better yet, risotto, or still better yet, risotto with peas. Even mashed potatoes are fine for sopping up the juices.