Chicken Fricassée

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By James Peterson

Published 1991

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Although some contemporary recipes have stretched the traditional definition of a fricassée—browning the chicken and using a variety of moistening liquids and garnitures—a classic fricassée should be almost perfectly white and the braising liquid always finished with heavy cream and egg yolks.

In this recipe, flour is cooked with onions sweated in the butter used for the chicken to form a roux. But a more intensely flavored sauce can be prepared by eliminating the flour, moistening the chicken with a well-concentrated white stock, and reducing the braising liquid to an almost demi-glace consistency before finishing with the cream and egg yolks. It is also possible to eliminate the egg yolks, reduce the cream alone, and finish the sauce with 1 to 1½ ounces (30 to 45 grams) butter. Hydrocolloids can also be incorporated as thickeners. One percent lecithin in the butter and 0.5% propylene glycol alginate in the braising liquid will stabilize the sauce. In any case, however, the sauce should not be allowed to boil.


chickens, 3 lb (1.4 kg) each, cut in serving pieces 2 2
salt and pepper to taste to taste
butter 3 oz 90 g
onions, chopped 2 medium 2 medium
flour 2 tbsp 30 ml
white chicken stock, hot 5 cups 1.25 L
button mushrooms 8 oz 250 g
pearl onions, peeled 8 oz 250 g
heavy cream ¾ cup 185 ml
egg yolks 4 4
lemon juice (optional) 1 tsp 5 ml


  1. If you’ll be cooking the chicken in the oven, preheat it to 300°F (149°C).
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a straight-sided sauté pan, gently cook the seasoned chicken pieces, skin side down, in 2 ounces (60 grams) of the butter. After about 10 minutes, turn them over and cook the flesh side. Cook gently to avoid browning the chicken or burning the butter. Remove the chicken from the pan.
  3. Add the chopped onions to the butter in the pan and sweat them, without browning, until translucent. Add the flour and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1 quart (1 liter) of the stock to the roux and bring to a simmer. Arrange the chicken pieces in the liquid. Cover. Cook the chicken in the oven or over low heat on the stove for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Cook the mushrooms in ½ cup (125 milliliters) of the remaining stock for 5 minutes.
  6. Simmer the pearl onions in the remaining ½ cup (125 milliliters) stock for about 15 minutes, until they soften.
  7. Strain the cooking liquid from both the mushrooms and onions and pour it into the cooking chicken. Keep the mushrooms and onions warm.
  8. Strain the braising liquid from the chickens into a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. (Keep the chicken pieces warm.) Reduce the liquid, while skimming, until approximately 2 cups (500 milliliters) remain.
  9. Whisk together the cream and egg yolks in a bowl. Whisk in half the reduced braising liquid. Return this mixture to the saucepan.
  10. Gently heat the cream–braising liquid mixture, while stirring, until the egg yolks thicken it slightly and give it a silky texture. Don’t let the mixture boil or the egg yolks will curdle. (There’s not enough flour to stabilize them.)
  11. Season with salt and pepper. (The lemon juice, if used, will enhance the finished sauce.) Serve the chicken coated with the sauce and topped with the mushrooms and pearl onions.