A few years ago it was another hot summer Sunday and I was planning something like a quick chicken teriyaki for lunch. But my mother-in-law dropped in and that would have to change. No, not the start to a joke, but the beginning of my falling in love with Provençal cooking all over again.
Usually my wife and I eat Japanese vegetarian food for our everyday meals, and a bit of decent quality organic meat for one weekend meal. But my Polish mother-in-law really finds Japanese a bit too strange for her tastes. No problem, I had plenty of good organic chicken in the freezer after overbuying for a BBQ.
I’m not sure why but I pulled down my yellow Provençal cookbook of shame. I say of shame because it is in English. Many years ago I bought it in a shop in Avignon where both English and French versions were available. Despite French being my mother tongue the culinary terminology scared me into getting the English copy and I still regret it to this day. Silly really, especially as I’ve only used one recipe for ratatouille from there in all this time. (You can get the book from Amazon France in French or English)
Anyway, for reasons unexplained I reached for the Provençal book and flicked through thinking of something that I would enjoy cooking and everyone would enjoy eating. Well with only one chicken recipe in the book the choice was made!
Based on my own memories of Friccassees past I made some changes to the recipe which made it a bit more rustic. I served it with mashed potatoes (using a splash of milk and white pepper) and a green salad.
Many Friccassee recipes are extraordinarily involved. This recipe is straightforward and easy giving you a delicious country dish in under 40 minutes.
Don’t be scared by the vinegar in this recipe, it works. Just make sure you have a good balsamic vinegar which isn’t too tart, there should be some sweetness to its flavour.
1 chicken (1.8-2Kgs)
500ml double cream
200ml balsamic vinegar
8-10 crimini mushrooms (small portobello)
1. Cut the chicken into eight pieces and lightly brown in a large pan using the butter. When the chicken has become golden brown, put in a dish to one side, discarding any remaining butter from the pan.
2. Finely chop the shallots and sweat them in the pan for a few minutes until they are becoming translucent.
3. Return the chicken to the pan along with sliced mushrooms and pour over the vinegar. While reducing the vinegar by half over a medium heat turn the chicken a few times to ensure even absorption.
4. Stir in all the cream and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove the white meat and continue cooking the legs until done, around 10 minutes.
5. Cut the leeks into 10cm (4 inch) lengths, discarding the loose, dark green leaves at the top. Cook in salted water, cooling in ice water when done.
6. In a serving dish lay out the leeks topped with your chicken which should have taken on a gorgeous brown from the vinegar.
7. Keep simmering the sauce until it has reduced a bit further then pour it hot over the chicken and serve.
Although I’ve played with his recipe, I can’t argue with Christian Etienne’s advice: “Serve this dish with a good wine.”
We had it with a wine which never fails to please during the summer months, Rosé d’Anjou.
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