Chicken Fricassee hails back to Grandma’s days and brings back fond memories of the kitchen with a pot of love simmering on the stove. What is chicken fricassee, you ask? Basically, it’s a simple dish of chicken simmered with vegetables, and usually wine. It is very similar to the Italian cacciatora or hunter’s stew. Some call it “smothered” or stewed chicken due to the moist cooking process. At any rate, there are many, many versions of this comfort food. I’ve added sausage to mine to stretch it out, along with a variety of vegetables. The vegetables add a natural sweetness to the gravy which is amazing over mashed potatoes, noodles or pasta, or rice. Dig in!
Chicken Fricassee with Sausage Recipe
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 Italian sausages
2 Tablespoons butter
6 chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in
1 cup Marsala or white wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 carrots, cut into 3-inch sticks
1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
1 head garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
3 cups (one 28-ounce can) petite chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1/2 each of 3 green, red, and yellow bell peppers (sweet capsicum), sliced into thin strips (see Notes)
1/2 cup sliced black olives
Chopped parsley for garnish
Prepared white rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes
You will need a deep, heavy hard-anodized skillet, 12-inches wide and 2-1/2 inches deep or an equivalent-sized Dutch oven. Heat the skillet over medium heat. When hot, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Sear the sausages to a nice brown color. (They will not be done in the middle, but more cooking is to come.) Slice into 2-inch chunks and set aside.
Season the chicken thighs with poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add the butter to the skillet. Sear the chicken until golden brown, fat-side down first, then flip to the other side. Turn only once. (Again, it won’t be cooked through.) Set aside.
Carefully pour the wine into the pan to deglaze. Stand back! It will sizzle furiously! Stir, scraping up browned bits, and let it reduce to half the amount.
Return chicken and sausages to the skillet, along with any accumulated juices, arranging in a single layer. Top with chicken broth, carrot sticks, onions, whole garlic cloves, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with tarragon, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. Tuck in the bay leaves and poke the vegetables into the liquid so they are covered as much as possible.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Gently stir and poke occasionally to keep things covered to cook evenly.
By this time the carrots and garlic cloves should be soft. Spread the bell pepper strips and black olives evenly over the top. Cover and simmer an additional 5 minutes until peppers begin to soften.
Taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving over white rice, cooked pasta or noodles, or mashed potatoes.
Yield: 6 servings
• Bratwurst, kielbasa, or your favorite link sausage may be substituted for the Italian sausage.
• You may use all one color of bell pepper, if you wish. I like the variety of the 3 different colors. Freeze the other halves of the bell peppers for future use. The bell peppers are added at the end of the cooking to preserve texture and color.
• Using skin-on and bone-in thighs yields a much better flavor, but boneless, skinless may be substituted. Chicken drumsticks may also be substituted.