Chicken Fricassee???

My family isn’t at all French. We’re probably 75% Cornish and 25% Norwegian. The meal I most requested from my grandmother, a truly wonderful southern cook, was Chicken Fricassee though. Or that’s what she called the bone in chicken in gravy, cooked in a bag if memory served, over rice that she whipped up to my constant demands. I’ve chased whatever that was for my entire adult life, though I don’t frankly remember very much about it except how satisfied it made me feel. It was hearty, and savory, and like any good southern girl “smothered” is my favorite adjective. This is my version.

6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs patted dry w/ paper towel
2 tbs bacon fat
2 leeks, quartered/rinsed/sliced
16 oz button mushrooms, quartered
1 tbs dijon mustard
2 lemons, juiced
4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs cornstarch in 2 tbs water slurry
1/3 cup chopped tarragon

Set a straight sided sauté pan on a medium heat. Liberally season the chicken thighs on all side. Add bacon fat to pan and allow to render. Then place the thighs, skin side down in the fat. Brown them on all sides until a deep mahogany color forms. Also great… encourage that brown-ness on the bottom of the pan. That’s the flavor.

Remove browned thighs to a plate and add the diced/cleaned leeks. Soften the leeks, then add the mushrooms until they’re also browned. Sometimes I need to lid the pan w/ the leeks and sometimes not. Just don’t let them burn. Drizzle in a little more bacon fat or butter if necessary to keep it all from sticking. Squeeze in the lemon juice to deglaze, then add the stock and mustard. Let that come to a boil and reduce slightly. Add S&P, and cream. Add the starch/water slurry and stir until uniformly thick.

Add the browned chicken back to the pan with the skin side up. The darkly colored tops should sit proud of the liquid. Put the lid on and cook on low, just barely a simmer, for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook another 5 or 10 minutes. Sprinkle with tarragon.

Serve over rice or egg noodles.

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