“Less EAT, Mummy!” Jemmy piped up helpfully. A long string of molasses-tinged saliva flowed from the corner of his mouth and dripped down the front of his shirt. Seeing this, his mother turned on Mrs. Bug like a tiger.
“Now see what you’ve done, you interfering old busybody! That was his last clean shirt! And how dare you talk about our private lives with everybody in sight, what possible earthly business of yours is it, you beastly old gossiping –”
Seeing the futility of protest, Roger put his arms round her from behind, picked her up bodily off the floor, and carried her out the back door, this departure accented by incoherent protests from Bree an grunts of pain from Roger, as she kicked him repeatedly in the shins, with considerable force and accuracy.
I went to the door and closed it delicately, shutting off the sounds of further altercation in the yard.
“She gets that from you, you know,” I said reproachfully, sitting down opposite Jamie. “Mrs. Bug, that smells wonderful. Do let’s eat!”
Mrs. Bug dished the fricassee in huffy silence, but declined to join us at table, instead putting on her cloak and stamping out the front door, leaving us to deal with the clearing-up. An excellent bargain, if you ask me.
Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Chapter 21)
There’s nothing like a little post-fracas fricassee to return those embroiled in emotion to calm. The rich sauce focuses the mind with singular intent, and the wholesome mix of slow-cooked chicken & veg comforts even the most adrenaline-charged maelstrom.
Unfortunately, when you’re that pissed off, you don’t really feel like sitting down to dinner, do you?
Not for awhile anyway. We’ll just keep it warm…
If you’re a fan of Julia Child, then you may recognize Chicken Fricasse from her repertoire. In fact, when I started my search for a traditional fricassee recipe, I turned to Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking first. But whereas Mrs. Bug would have used one kettle to cook her stew, Julia managed to dirty every pan in the kitchen by cooking all of the components of this dish separately.
And that doesn’t work in the modern Outlander Kitchen. I’m sure all of us would rather be reading than doing the dishes. Or at least sneaking a peek at DG’s Daily Lines.
So I took Julia’s recipes and simplified and condensed them into a single Crockpot Chicken Fricassee receipt — one that I’m pretty chuffed about. It makes for some very tasty Outlander-inspired eats, if I do say so myself.
And while it uses (by my count) 3 pans, including the slow cooker, it’s got nothing on Mrs. Child’s.
Don’t be daunted by the long recipe. The method is simple, the ingredients basic and once everything is in the crock pot (about 30 minutes prep), you can turn it on and walk away for a good part of the day.
The sauce is quick to finish just before serving and is the highlight of the dish — without it, this is simply a chicken and vegetable stew — thickened with egg yolks, the sauce adds a luscious authenticity to my modern-day adaptation of this classic French dish.
And for those of you trying to cut the calories, don’t be afraid of the cream, just go a little lighter on the sauce when you serve. But please don’t skip it, you’ll be missing the best part.
The potatoes are the only non-authentic component of the dish. Traditionally, a fricassee is served on rice, but in the spirit of making clean-up as easy as possible, I went with tatties and threw them in with everything else.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
A warm, comforting chicken and vegetable stew finished with a flavourful cream sauce that Mrs. Bug would have been proud to call her own.
For the Chicken:
- Bone-in Chicken Thighs, rinsed and trimmed of extra fat & skin – 2 lbs (6-8 pieces)
- All Purpose Flour – ¼ Cup
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Pepper – ¼ tsp
- Olive Oil – 2 Tble
- Butter – 2 Tble
For the Vegetables:
- Mushrooms, wiped clean, halved – ½ lb
- Yellow Potatoes, trimmed, 2” pieces – 1 lb
- Lemon Juice – 2 Tble
- Small Onions (about 1” diameter), peeled – ¾ lb (or 1 large onion, julienned)
- Carrots, peeled and cut into 4-6 pieces each – 2 medium
- Garlic, papery skin removed - 1 whole head
- Butter – 2 Tble
- Bay Leaves – 2
- Fresh Thyme – 2 sprigs
- Salt + Pepper – pinches
- Chicken Stock – 1 Cup
- White Wine – ½ Cup
For the Sauce:
- Whipping Cream – ½ Cup
- Egg Yolks – 2
- Salt + Pepper – to taste
Pat the chicken pieces dry. Mix together the flour, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Dredge the thighs in flour one at a time, shaking off the excess.
Heat a large heavy frying pan over medium-high. Heat the olive oil and butter until bubbling and fry half of the chicken, skin side down, until light golden, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and fry another 3 minutes on the second side. Remove to the crock pot and repeat with the other half of the chicken.
Toss the mushrooms and potatoes with the lemon juice, then nestle them, along with the onions, carrots, garlic, butter, bay leaves and thyme in amongst the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper, pour in the stock and wine, and rock the crock pot gently to settle and mix.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Move the oven rack to the top position and preheat the oven to 300°.
When the chicken and vegetables are tender, turn off the crock pot. Discard the garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken and vegetables to an oven-proof dish, and keep warm in the oven, uncovered, while you finish the sauce.
Strain the cooking liquid from the crock pot into a medium saucepan. Use a spoon to skim the surface of fat, then reduce the liquid over medium-high heat until it measures about 1½ cups. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Beat together the egg yolks and cream. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the hot cooking liquid into the cream mixture and stir well, then add the cream back into the saucepan and stir constantly until hot, and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste and keep warm.
When the sauce is ready, turn the oven’s to broil to lightly brown and crisp the chicken’s skin, about 4 or 5 minutes.
Divide the chicken and vegetables on 4 plates and spoon over the sauce.
Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)
- Ideally, you want to use a white chicken stock in a fricassee, to keep the colour light. However, if you have homemade brown chicken stock and use that instead, no one but you will ever know. If you use store-bought stock, go easy on the salt when you’re seasoning the rest of the dish.