Tonight’s dinner comes to us from our friend, Ann, up north in the frozen tundra. Winter is a great time to fire up the oven and warm up the house, and this is a good reason to enjoy the fact that it’s cold outside. Soups and stews and one-pot casseroles are my mainstay during the fall and winter, and this one is particularly nice because it’s broth-based. No heavy gravy to weigh us down.
Ann made it with chicken thighs and added green beans she had from her garden. I had boiled a whole chicken for soup and stock on Thursday, so I had two cooked breasts in the ‘fridge and decided not to cook more, but to adapt the recipe to what was in the house. What a concept, eh?!? And it worked.
Victor is not crazy about cipollini onions, so I used half of a red onion. I also added a splash of white wine, because… well… everything is better with a splash of white wine. I went with a wild mushroom blend, along with cremini mushrooms – and didn’t peel the potatoes.
As you read the introduction to the recipe, you note that the author talks about using different potatoes, different mushrooms… The recipe is not chiseled in stone – it is adaptable to each and every one of us and our own likes and dislikes – as well as what’s in the larder at the moment.
Read the recipe and then see how you an make it your own!
Chicken Grand-mère Francin
Yield: 4 Servings
Chicken Grand-mère, a savory fricassée, is a classic in French cuisine in general, but it was a classic in my family too. It was a specialty and a favorite of my Grandmother Francine, the grandmother who cooked at the original Café Boulud outside Lyon, and at no time was it better than at mushroom harvest time. Mushrooms are a typical Chicken Grand-mère ingredient, but there was nothing typical about the dish when my grandmother would add rose des prés, pink field mushrooms, newly dug potatoes and new garlic. Fortunately, this dish always seems to be both satisfying and soothing whether you’re making it plain, with cultivated cremini or oyster mushrooms and creamer potatoes, or fancy, dressing it up with exotic mushrooms and any of the small fingerling or banana potatoes that many greenmarkets now offer.
- One 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 cipollini onions, peeled and trimmed
- 4 shallots, peeled and trimmed
- 2 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 4 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 small celery roots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 ounces slab bacon, cut into short, thin strips
- 12 small cremini or oyster mushrooms, trimmed and cleaned
- 2 cups unsalted chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Working over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan or skillet – choose one with high sides and a cover. Season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper, slip them into the pan, and cook until they are well browned on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take your time – you want a nice, deep color and you also want to partially cook the chicken at this point. When the chicken is deeply golden, transfer it to a platter and keep it in a warm place while you work on the vegetables.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the cooking fat from the pan. Lower the heat to medium, add the butter, onions, shallots, garlic and thyme, and cook and stir just until the vegetables start to take on a little color, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, celery root and bacon and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, just to start rendering the bacon fat. Cover the pan and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and return the chicken to the pan. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and slide the pan into the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Spoon everything onto a warm serving platter or into an attractive casserole.
Bring the chicken to the table, with plenty of pieces of crusty baguette to sop up the sauce and spread with the soft, sweet, caramel-like garlic that is easily squeezed out of its skin.
A rustic Bandol Rouge
One of the more fun things with the recipe are the garlic cloves. They come out like roasted garlic – sweet and spreadable on crust bread or rolls. I used the whole wheat rolls I baked yesterday. It was perfect.
As you can see, the recipe makes a goodly amount, so plan accordingly. We will have another complete meal from this.
Celery root – also called celeriac – is not a normal staple in our house, but I do see it being bought a bit more often. It does have a lot of different uses that I just haven’t taken the time to explore.
Time to explore!