I have made it. My 3rd post for the Cooking Italy club, and on time to boot. This week’s challenge was easy, courtesy of Marcella Hazan’s Chicken Fricassee. When I told hubby that I was making chicken again, he rolled his eyes (he’s not found of chicken if it’s not in a nugget, that’s the teenager in him), then quickly corrected himself: “Actually I loved your latest chicken dishes, so I shouldn’t complain…” Of those dishes, one was even Hazan’s Chicken with Two lemons, about which I should post later on.
Basically, this dish is a quick braised chicken, with all the earthiness of rehydrated porcini, plus the zest of Italian wine—in this case a 2008 Maculan Pino et toi—and canned tomatoes.
Cutting to the chase, the whole family looooved it, which came as a surprise since I expected the extra earthy porcini to be an issue. Husband actually commented that the mushroom made the chicken taste almost like bush rabbit. Even kiddo devoured, then asked for more. Wow.
I had planned on serving this saucy chicken with a lethal butter-and-parmesan polenta but hubby had depleted my cornmeal to make his near and dear fufu. So I ended up cooking some pasta shells, a choice my 4-year-old was bound to appreciate since he refuses to even taste polenta.
BTW, if there are any Italian readers out there, I’d love to know if children in Italy are polenta-crazy, which I always assumed any child would be, or if it’s an acquired taste.
On the ups and downs of making this recipe: This was cooked with a 4-year-old underfoot. I was distracted and, as a result, was prevented from checking the chicken as it browned, so the skin stuck to the pan and that was that… I don’t think it affected the taste but certainly the appearance. One of my Cooking Italy colleagues, In Kaye’s Kitchen, was much more successful and her chicken probably looks more like what Hazan intended.
So here goes, without further ado. The Chicken Fricassee I will be making again and again, by request.
Marcella Hazan’s Chicken Fricassee with Porcini Mushrooms, White Wine, and Tomatoes
• 30 g (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
• A 1.5 kg (3.5 lbs) chicken cut into 4 pieces (I used chicken parts instead, 1 breast with 3 chicken thighs)
• 30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil (I used half olive-half grapeseed)
• pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper
• 125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
• 60 ml (1/4 cup) canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, chopped coarse, with their juice
• 15 ml (1 tbsp) butter
1. 30 minutes before you are ready to start cooking, soak porcini mushrooms in 500 ml (2 cups) of lukewarm water. Drain, keeping porcini and their soaking water separately. Rinse porcini a few times to remove any woodsy bits and dirt, then chop. Filter soaking water through a strainer lined with a paper towel. Reserve.
2. Wash chicken in cold water and pat dry with a tablecloth or paper towels.
3. Pour oil into a sauté pan and warm it on medium high. When the oil is very hot, put in chicken pieces, skin side down. Brown well for a few minutes, checking every so often so skin does not stick and peel off. Season with salt and pepper, turn over and brown other side.
4. (I removed the chicken here, my mistake, Hazan does NOT say to do this.) Deglaze with wine, scraping off any bits from pan, and simmer on medium-high for 30 seconds.
5. Add porcini, the filtered soaking water, and the chopped tomatoes with their juice. Place chicken back in, turn over to coat very well and, on a slow simmer with lid slightly ajar, cook 50 minutes or until meat comes easily off the bone. Turn once in a while during cooking.
6. Remove cooked chicken and transfer to serving platter. Tip the pan gently to pour out or spoon off most of the fat. If you want a thicker sauce, boil over high heat. Swirl in the butter and pour over chicken.