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of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

The bfia chicken fricassee


  • Fowl generous ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • scant ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • scant ¼ teaspoon mace
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried thyme
  • generous ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon lard
  • 2 slices of bacon, roughly chopped
  • a chicken cut into 10 pieces (separate the legs and thighs; cut each breast in half across the cartilage)
  • flour for dusting the chicken
  • salt, pepper and cayenne for the dusting flour
  • a good handful of coarsely chopped mushrooms
  • 2 big onions sliced into thin crescents
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire
  • salt
  • 1 generous Tablespoon minced chives
  • 2 Tablespoons minced parsley

  1. Stir together the allspice, cayenne, mace, pepper, thyme and turmeric for your seasoning mix.
  2. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt, pepper and cayenne, and lightly dust them with the flour.
  3. Melt the lard over medium heat, add the bacon and cook it until crisp; remove it from the pot.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and brown the chicken; do not crowd the pieces (cook them in batches if necessary). Remove the chicken from the pot and put it with the bacon.
  5. Increase the heat to high, add the mushrooms to the pot and sear them until they color and shrink; do not stir them or they will boil in their own liquid (shake the pot if the mushrooms threaten to burn). Remove the mushrooms to the dish with the chicken.
  6. Decrease the heat, add the onions and cook them, stirring, until they turn just golden.
  7. Add the Tablespoon of flour, then the seasoning mix, and stir until the flour marries with the onions.
  8. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves and Worcestershire, stir the sauce as it comes to a boil, then add the bacon, chicken and mushrooms.
  9. Reduce the heat to low and keep the fricassee at a bare simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 40 minutes. Check the fricassee for salt.
  10. When the chicken is done, stir the chives and parsley into the fricassee and serve it up hot.

Notes:

- As always, we recommend Wondra flour for dusting the chicken and thickening the sauce; it dissolves quickly and nearly never forms lumps.

- If the notion of lard bothers you, substitute a neutral oil or clarified butter. The lard is better.

- You are not trying to cook the chicken fully at step 4; as soon as its surface has turned brown, get it off the heat so that it has not overcooked by the time the fricassee’s elements have married and its flavors have intensified.

- The Collins’ original recipe omits the bacon, mushrooms and one of the bay leaves, uses water instead of stock and adds the parsley much earlier, at step 8. It also reduces the amount of seasonings other than the pepper. It too is an excellent recipe; we like strong flavors.

- Mushroom ketchup is a worthy substitute for the Worcestershire, or go with half of each if you like.