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Chicken Fricassée (quick French chicken stew)

1 hour Cook
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Chicken fricassee is a classic French chicken stew made with golden-brown chicken in a creamy white mushroom sauce. A quick rustic family meal, perfect for midweek. It’s a bit like the white sauce version of Kok Kho Van, but much easier to make.

This is a reader favorite recipe, and by popular request, has been included in my debut cookbook, Dinner!.

Chicken Fricassée (quick French chicken stew) - NomNomWow
Chicken Fricassée (quick French chicken stew) – NomNomWow

Chicken Fricassée

Pronounced “furikasei,” this is the perfect recipe for an always-cozy stew without hours of slow cooking. This dish is a classic French chicken stew with mushrooms in a creamy white sauce. It’s not the rich, dark brown sauce you typically find in stews like coq au vin or this baked chicken stew.

Let’s be frank, the chicken is gorgeous (juicy, golden brown, etc)… but this dish is all about the creamy white sauce!!!

Ingredients in Chicken Fricassée

Here’s what you need to make Chicken Fricassée.

1. CHICKEN PIECES

This dish is best prepared with skin-on, bone-in chicken that remains delicious and juicy after cooking in the sauce.By the way, this is an easy stew that only takes 30 minutes to cook. Still, boneless breasts and thighs get overcooked in the meantime. That being said, I know some of you will ask, so I make chicken fricassee with breasts and boneless thighs. I included a note in the recipe on how!!

2. OTHER INGREDIENTS IN CHICKEN FRICASSÉE

Here are the other ingredients required for Chicken Fricassée:

  • Garlic and onion – The foundation upon which many savoury dishes are built, and Chicken Fricassée is no exception!
  • Bay leaves and thyme – The herb flavourings for the sauce. Fresh is best if you have them, else dried is fine.
  • Butter – It’s a French dish. Say no more! 
  • Mushrooms – The traditional vegetable included in the sauce. Though really, this is such an adaptable dish that it can be made with any vegetable suitable for braising. Add those that can withstand a 30 minute braising time at the beginning, and faster-cooking vegetables (like green beans and asparagus) towards the end.
  • White wine – Any white wine that’s not too woody or sweet will work great here. Chardonnay in particular adds really good flavour. Substitute with more low-sodium chicken stock/broth for a non-alcoholic version.
  • Chicken stock/broth – This dish is extremely tasty made with regular store-bought chicken stock. But it becomes a restaurant-quality treat if you make it with homemade chicken stock! Homemade chicken stock is straightforward to make and really worth it for the added deliciousness. (Bonus: It’s lower sodium than store bought and you get extra nutrients from the bones).
  • Flour – Used to lightly thicken the sauce.
  • Cream – This also thickens the sauce as well as making the sauce rich, creamy and decadent!

How to make Chicken Fricassée

In brief, chicken fricassee is made by browning chunks of chicken in butter and simmering them in a creamy mushroom sauce thickened with a small amount of flour. It doesn’t take much, and the chicken goes through the fire.

  1. Brown chicken – First, we sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Then in a large skillet or pot that has a lid, melt the butter over medium-high heat. (If your pot/skillet doesn’t have a lid or you don’t have a lid from another pot that is the same size or larger, don’t stress, there’s options – I outline these in the simmering step.)Brown the chicken thighs first, placing them in the butter skin side down. Cook them for 4 – 5 minutes until nice and golden, then turn and cook the other side for just 1 minute. Remove the thighs from the skillet to a plate or tray. Now do the drumsticks. For drumsticks, I usually sear 3 sides which gets decent coverage all around – about 2 minutes on each side. Once done, add them to the plate holding the thighs. There will still be plenty of butter left in the skillet, which has now transformed into browned butter. Which means it’s extra tasty – woo!
  2. Sauté mushrooms – To start the sauce, sauté the onions, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaves for around 5 minutes in the residual butter, adding the garlic towards the end. The mushrooms will change from white to light golden, but won’t go a deep golden brown. There’s no point browning mushrooms well because they will lose the colour when braised. Then add the flour and cook it for 1 minute to cook out the raw floury taste.
  3. Add stock and wine – Then add the wine and chicken stock. Stir well, scraping the base of the pot to dissolve all the golden bits stuck on the base of the pot into the sauce. This stuff is called “fond” and it’s concentrated flavours that makes the sauce even tastier!
  4. Return chicken to pan – Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up. It will mostly be submerged, and that’s exactly what we want. The braising liquid will keep the chicken nice and juicy, while the chicken will absorb the tasty sauce flavour!
  1. Simmer covered 10 minutes – Once the chicken is in the sauce, bring the liquid back up to a simmer. Then adjust the heat so it’s bubbling constantly but not boiling rapidly – see video to see what this looks like. On my stove, it’s medium heat. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Uncovered 20 minutes – Remove the lid then simmer for a further 20 minutes. In this step, the sauce will reduce and thicken into a thin gravy consistency. “When is the chicken cooked?” – By this time, the chicken will be cooked. 30 minutes mightn’t sound like long for a stew, but that’s all you need because the chicken is cooked submerged in a very hot liquid. It will be completely cooked and quite tender, though not at the “fall-apart-at-a-touch” stage which is intentional.
  3. Now make the sauce creamy … – Remove chicken from the sauce to a plate. Add the cream, stir, then bring the sauce back up to a simmer.
  4. Garnish and serve! Once the sauce comes back up to a simmer, return the chicken to the sauce. There’s no need to simmer the sauce after the cream is added. Garnish with a good amount of parsley, and it’s ready to serve!

Matters of serving and eating!

HOW TO SERVE CHICKEN FRICASSÉE

Chicken Fricassée can be served directly in individual servings. Otherwise, serve it family-style by placing either the cooking vessel on the table or transfer the Chicken Fricassée to a large serving bowl so people can help themselves.

STARCHY SIDES

What to serve with chicken fricassee, this good sauce needs a starchy partner! While mashed potatoes are traditional (cauliflower mashed potatoes for those low in carbs), rice is also not unheard of.

Short pastas like macaroni, penne and titi are also recommended. Basically anything you can taste every drop of this gorgeous creamy mushroom sauce!

SIDE SALAD

We’re a little light on the vegetables in Chicken Fricassée! So round off your meal with a nice side of greens. Try a big bowl of roasted vegetables, Garlic Sautéed Spinach, a fresh French Bistro Salad, Roasted Asparagus or a big bowl of leafy greens tossed with a French Vinaigrette.

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Chicken Fricassée (quick French chicken stew)

Chicken Fricassée (quick French chicken stew)

maimoona
Chicken fricassee is a classic French chicken stew made with golden-brown chicken in a creamy white mushroom sauce. A quick rustic family meal, perfect for midweek. It's a bit like the white sauce version of Kok Kho Van, but much easier to make.
prep time
20 mins
cooking time
1 hour
servings
4-6
total time
1 houe 20 mins

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken drumsticks (~150g/5oz each, Note 1)

  • 4 chicken thighs , skin-on and bone-in (~250g/8oz each, Note 1)

  • 1 tsp salt (cooking / kosher salt)

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 4 tbsp / 60g unsalted butter

  • STEW INGREDIENTS

  • 300g / 10oz white mushrooms , halved if small, or cut in 4 to 6 if large

  • 2 medium brown onions , sliced 0.6cm (1/2in) wide

  • 2 garlic cloves , finely minced

  • 1 bay leaf , fresh (sub dried)

  • 3 thyme sprigs (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)

  • 3 tbsp flour , plain / all-purpose

  • 1/2 cup white wine , preferably chardonnay (Note 2)

  • 3 cups chicken stock , low sodium (preferably homemade!)

  • 1/4 tsp salt (cooking / kosher salt)

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  • 2 tbsp parsley , chopped

  • 2/3 cup thickened/heavy cream

Instructions

1

Season chicken:

Pat chicken dry with paper towels then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2

Brown thighs:

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet or heavy based pot with a lid. Add chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side for 1 minute then remove to a plate.
3

Brown drumsticks:

Then brown the drumsticks, as best you can. I do 3 sides, about 2 minutes each. Then remove from skillet.
4

Sauté mushrooms and onion:

Add mushrooms, onion, bay leave and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes until mushroom is lightly golden – they won't go deep golden brown.
5

Garlic and flour:

Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add flour and cook for 1 minute.
6

Wine and chicken stock:

Add wine and chicken stock. Stir, scraping the base of the pot to dissolve the brown residue stuck to the pan ("fond") into the sauce.
7

Return chicken to sauce:

Return chicken back into the sauce with the skin side up.
8

Simmer covered 10 minutes:

Once it comes to a simmer, adjust heat so it's bubbling constantly but not rapidly (see video) – medium-low on my stove. Cover with lid and simmer 10 minutes.
9

Uncover 20 minutes:

Remove lid and let it simmer for a further 20 minutes. Chicken will be cooked – internal temperature 75°C/167°F or slightly higher.
10

Creamy sauce:

Remove chicken to a plate. Add cream and stir. Once it comes up to a simmer, taste sauce (I know, big ask!), and add more salt if desired..
11
Serve! Return chicken into the sauce then remove from the stove. Sprinkle with parsley and serve! Traditionally served over mashed potato or rice. Also ideal with short pasta like penne, ziti or macaroni.

Notes

Chicken – Needs to be skin on, bone in pieces so they don’t overcook and dry out. If you are dead set on making this with boneless breast, brown it per recipe, simmer sauce with lid off for 15 minutes (to reduce), then add breast and simmer with lid on for 6 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 65°C/149°F. For boneless thigh, do the same except the internal temperature should be 75°C/167°F. Wine – Any dry white wine will work great here, though chardonnay is particularly good because it adds good flavour. Don’t use anything too sweet or too woody. Non alcoholic substitute: Replace with more chicken stock. Recipe source – Another winning Gallic classic created with the help of French chef Jean-Baptiste Alexandré!
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