Chicken Fricassee was a favorite dinner of President Abraham Lincoln.
It is easy to understand why. This is a succulent, creamy, and delicious chicken dish cooked in one pot. Serve with homemade biscuits, rice or mashed potatoes on the side to soak up the wonderful gravy. It is comfort food at its best.
In Abe’s day, Chicken Fricassee was made by dredging chicken pieces from 2-3 old hens in flour and then fried in lard. The gravy was made with cream and seasoned with nutmeg and mace. A ball of butter was rolled in flour to thicken the gravy at the end. During Lincoln’s presidency, Mary Todd Lincoln requested the White House kitchen make him ” a dish Chicken Fricassee and small biscuits with thick cream gravy poured all over it, on one platter” according to Lincoln’s Table by Donna D. McCreary. It was reported that Abe “ate three helps and more gravy than you and me and mother could”.
My version of Chicken Fricassee uses a cut-up fryer chicken (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings) dredged in seasoned flour. It is then pan-fried in butter and olive oil in a covered braising pan like this Le Creuset Braiser. A dutch oven or cast iron skillet would also work.
Remove the chicken from the pan, and add some mushrooms, onions, and nutmeg for flavor to the drippings.
To make the gravy, deglaze with white wine and add chicken stock for braising liquid. Place the chicken back in the pan and braise partially covered for 30 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink and the gravy has started to thicken. The flour from the dredged chicken is just enough to make a great gravy.
Finish the gravy with the addition of some heavy cream, and garnish with parsley. Serve with biscuits, rice or mashed potatoes for a wonderful and hearty weeknight meal.
- 3 ¼ pound chicken pieces ( 1 whole fryer chicken cut-up 2 legs, 2 thighs 2 breasts, 2 wings)
- ¾ cup flour
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
- 2 chicken stock
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Wash and dry the chicken pieces.
- Combine the flour salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika in a shallow bowl. Dredge each piece of chicken in the seasoned flour to coat evenly.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a large braiser or deep skillet over medium-high heat on the stove top. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer and cook until brown and crispy on all sides. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add onions to the pan, and cook until slightly soften, about 5 minutes
- Add mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms start to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Take the pan off the flame and add wine to deglaze. Return to flame, and bring to a boil.
- Add chicken stock and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.
- Place chicken, skin side up, in a single layer in the pan. The liquid should not cover the chicken entirely. Add any juices that have accumulated on the plate to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover partially. Cook until internal temperature of thickest part of chicken registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.
- Transfer chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
- Simmer liquid, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Add cream, lemon juice, and parsley. Continue simmering and gently stirring until combined and hot. Return the chicken to the pot and gently cook over medium-low heat another 3-5 minutes until the chicken is warmed and the sauce is thick.
- Serve immediately with homemade biscuits, rice or mashed potatoes.