Chicken Fricassee: Julia Child Style

I have been reading Julia Child's biography of her time in France. As a fellow adventurer; I can understand  her passion and love of the culture and how everything was to be viewed with splendor and awe. I felt that way a lot when I was abroad and every time I visit a country I find something I need to learn how to make. If I had the opportunities that she had to take cooking classes at Le Cordon Blue I am sure I could master an entire cuisine. As such I have to contend myself to being an amateur chef/cook.

I am fortunate enough to have a 1970's copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" vol. 1 in my bookshelf. One of the things that struck me about the book, was the way in which it was written. There were no ingredients list followed by directions. Rather it was a fluid way of writing. In order to know what you needed in the recipe, you had to actually READ it. Its about focusing on the ingredients at hand as they happen and taking care with those ingredients. While I am sure this was revolutionary, her later works did follow a more standardized method. I, personally, am a fan of the ingredients list then the directions, which is how I will post here, as it helps me organize my prep.

I will have to break down this recipe as it does call for a few things and to be honest this is one of those recipes that you will need to take your time with. FYI: This is NOT a healthy, This is NOT a quick recipe, and it IS completely worth it.

The first thing you need to do is READ carefully, and then second, prepare EVERYTHING you need as much in advance as possible. This cuts down on time and you are able to plan things more accordingly. The recipe is directly from her book however I will note where I made changes.


  • 2 1/2- 3 lbs of chicken cut up, rinsed and dried thoroughly with a towel
    • I used chicken thighs, as that is what I had in my freezer and  that is usually the most forgiving, though it does produce quite a bit of liquid. More on that in the directions
  • 4 tbls butter
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 1 thinly sliced carrot
  • 1 thinly sliced celery stalk
  • 3 tbls flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper 
    • I added more pepper because that is what I like.
  • 3 cups boiling white chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • A small herb Bouquet (thyme, parsley, rosemary and bay leaf)
    • I had to use dry herbs: 1/2 tsp of Parsley, Oregano, Basil)
  • 16-20 white onions braised (she means Pearl Onions here)
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms stewed in butter, lemon juice, and water

The Sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (aka Heavy Cream)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch (1/16) nutmeg
  • Two drops of lemon juice
  1. Prepare the braised onions first either here or the day before.
    1. 18-24 peeled white onions (blanch them in boiling water for 10 sec. to make this easier) place in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup chicken stock, 2 tbls butter, salt, pepper, herbs. Cook for 40-50 min, until tender and they keep their shape.
      Finished Product
  2. Take a heave 10 inch fire proof casserole dish or large stock pot (I had the stock pot only) and heat the butter over low heat.
  3. Cook the vegetables slowly over low heat in the butter for 5 min, or until almost tender but NOT browned.
  4. Push them to one side and raise the heat slightly. 
    1. You should be boiling your three cups of stock at this point if you aren't.
    2. When using a stock pot this is more difficult, so I placed my chicken on top of the vegetable mixture
  5. Add the chicken turn the chicken every min for 3-4 min until the meat has stiffened but does not color.
  6. Lower the heat and cover, cook the chicken very slowly for 10 min, turning once, it should swell slightly but not change color.
  7. Meanwhile mix the flour, salt, and pepper  and sprinkle the mix on all sides of the chicken in the pot.
    1. Because I was using a stock pot I could only cook three thighs at a time so I had to repeat this step twice. It is important therefore, that you do not burn the butter and vegetables.
  8. Remove the chicken and pour the chicken stock in and mix it with the flour (scraping the brown bits of the bottom with your tongs)
    before adding the stock
  9. Add the wine, herbs, and more stock or water so the liquid just covers the chicken and bring to a simmer. 
  10. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and stew the Mushrooms.
    1. 1/3 cup water, salt, pepper, 1 tbls lemon juice. Bring to a boil and let simmer, covered, for 5 min. Reserve 2 tbls of juice then drain.
  11. Cover and maintain a slow simmer for 25-30 min. The chicken is done when the juices run clear yellow when the meat is priced with a fork.
  12. Remove the chicken to a plate and place in the preheated oven
  13. Add 2 tbls of the stewed mushroom juices and braised onion juices to the stock.
  14. Simmer the liquid in the casserole for 2-3 min, skimming off the fat. 
  15. Raise the heat to high and boil rapidly until the sauce reduces  and thickens enough to coat a spoon nicely, Correct seasoning, You should have 2-2 1/2 cups.
    1. This is the part that is most frustrating. While in the book it seems really simple to reduce it down, the reality was that the juices from the thighs added more liquid in addition to the juices from the mushrooms and onions. It would take you about two hours, and I am NOT that patient. So I brought it to a rapid boil and reduced it as much as I could for no longer than 45 min. It did coat a stainless steel spoon but it was WAY more than 2 1/2 cups. I just measured out the 2 1/2 cups and discarded the rest.
  16. Blend the yolks and cream in a mixing bowl with a wire whip. Continue beating and add the hot sauce by small tablespoonfuls until about a cupful has gone in. 
  17. Beat the rest of the cause in a thin stream
  18. Pour the sauce back into the casserole or into a enameled or stainless still sauce pan. Set over moderately high heat and, stirring constantly, reach all over the bottom and sides of the pan until the sauce comes to a boil. Boil for 1 min stirring.
  19. Correct seasoning, adding drops of lemon to taste and a pinch of nutmeg. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve. 
    1. I actually didn't do that because I didn't have a fine sieve. Honestly, its fine and tastes wonderful.
  20. Arrange the onions and mushrooms on a plate and add the chicken over top. 
  21. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken and serve.

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