Chicken fricassee – Hühnerfrikassee

chicken fricassée - Hühnerfrikassée

I am working on a recipe index… and tidying up some loose ends. Boy, all of those take some time and I got lost dreaming of a new place or a change. This initiated a minor spring clean: the kitchen got a spruce paint job (white over splatters, project The-parents-are-coming-soon) and I had a good tidy in the storage room reappointing a lot of things to the charity shop: don’t think I’ll ever wear the Girbaud suit thing with cut-outs again (stretchy material, though). Invigorating.

Hühnerfrikassee is one of my favourite meals since I was a child: the sauce is a little lemony and ever so often you hit a tangy tasting brined caper. I love (loooove) capers and their numbers tend to decrease every time I am passing my pan, so beware, if you find me in the vicinity of your stove acting totally innocent – probably whistling – while you wonder about the severely diminished caper-count. I did it, spoon at the ready, to my mother’s fricassee every time her back was turned. Sorry, Mama.

In Germany, chicken fricassee is classically served with white asparagus tips when the new & tender white asparagus is in season (now) or otherwise, sliced white champignons could be added to the aromatic sauce. I love the pure dish equally to an asparagus studded version and have some bright green peas as a side to contrast the pale creamy white.

On a weekend or if you have the time it is definitely worth it making the fricassee from scratch using a tasty long, free & happy-lived boiling chicken. The meat stays wonderfully juicy and you’ll have a great chicken broth as a bonus. For instant gratification and a really fast dinner (we are talking maximum 10-15 minutes including the time it takes to cook the rice) use leftover meat from a roasted chicken and start the recipe with the roux. For smaller portions, I think a poached chicken breast (use the same recipe for the poaching liquid) works well, too. Although, why not make a whole batch and freeze the surplus portions for a rainy day?



Chicken fricassee

for 6-8 people as a main, depending on the voracity of their appetite

1 chicken (preferably a boiling hen)
2 tablespoons butter (30g)
1 onion
root vegetables for soup (ask for ‘Suppengrün’): 1 large carrot, a piece celery root (1 thick slice or ¼ small root), 1 leek, 1 parsley root, 1 yellow turnip, 1 branch parsley & lovage => dice all, leave herbs whole
lemon peel or a thick slice of lemon (organic)
a few black pepper corns
½ – ¾ litre = 500-750ml or a 1½ pint (US) water

30g butter
1 shallot, minced
2 heaped tablespoons (30g) flour
½ litre (500ml or a pint) of the reserved stock, don’t fret if it is a little less or top up
white wine (dry, a small glass)
small capers in brine (to taste)
90ml or 6 tablespoons cream
lemon juice
salt & white pepper
(optional: 1 egg yolk)
optional: sliced white champignons de Paris or tender white asparagus tips

Dry the chicken, season with salt and pepper. Heat a braising pan, small Dutch oven or a heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat and fry the chicken until only lightly coloured and not browned on all sides. Toss the diced soup vegetables a little in the butter without browning, then add the aromatics (herbs, lemon peel, pepper) & finally pour in the water. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for about 1½ hours, turning the chicken from time to time. Leave to cool and take the meat of the bones and tear it into bite sized pieces: either wait until you are able to touch the chicken or leave for a few hours or overnight until needed, then tear the meat of accordingly. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and reserve.

Make a light roux with shallot: melt the butter, sweat the shallot until translucent, sprinkle with flour and leave to roast (not brown!) for a moment, add the liquid in small instalments. To avoid a lumpy sauce add only a little broth at a time, whisking constantly until the mass is smooth again, add more broth and whisk again until smooth again, repeat with increasing amounts of liquid, stirring constantly. Pour in a good lug or a small glass of white wine and continue to cook a few minutes more to allow the roux to thicken the sauce slightly. Add the chicken meat, capers (to taste, I like a lot, some people prefer less), cream and season with lemon juice, salt & pepper. My grandmother used an egg yolk to enrich & thicken the sauce a little more. Traditionally slices of snow-white champignons or equally tender white asparagus tips are added to the chicken fricassee (mushrooms sautéed in butter without taking colour, thin asparagus tips cooked for 4-5 minutes in salted water with a pinch of sugar added), a vision in pale cream flecked with dark green capers. We eat this with white basmati rice and cooked green peas.


für 6-8 Personen

1 gutes Suppenhuhn
2 EL Butter
1 Zwiebel
Suppengrün oder –gemüse: 1 große Möhre, 1 große Scheibe oder ¼ Knolle Sellerieknolle, 1 Stange Lauch, 1 Petersilienwurzel, 1 gelbe Rübe, 1 Zweig Petersilie & Liebstöckel => Gemüse würfeln, Kräuter ganz lassen
Zitronenschale oder dicke Scheibe einer ganzen Zitrone Bio, versteht sich)
einige schwarze Pfefferkörner
½ – ¾ Liter Wasser

30g Butter
1 Schalotte, fein gewürfelt
2 gehäufte EL (30g) Mehl
½ Liter Hühnerbrühe (wenn es nicht reicht, macht nichts oder einfach mit ein wenig Wasser aufstocken)
trockener Weißwein (ca. ein kleines Glas)
kleine Kapern in Lake (nach Geschmack)
90ml oder 6 EL Sahne
Salz & weißer Pfeffer
(optional: 1 Eigelb zum legieren der Sauce)
optional: weiße Champignons in Scheiben geschnitten oder weiße Spargelspitzen

Huhn abtrocknen, salzen und pfeffern und in einem Schmortopf (mit Deckel) in Butter bei mäßiger Hitze von allen Seiten leicht anbraten bis das Huhn Farbe annimmt, aber nicht bräunt. Das klein geschnittene Suppengemüse hinzugeben und ebenfalls in der Butter anschwitzen, dann die Kräutern, Zitronenschale & Pfefferkörner hinzugeben, anschließend mit Wasser begießen. Den Deckel auflegen und ca. 1 ½ Stunden köcheln lasse, das Huhn von Zeit zu Zeit wenden. Huhn abkühlen lassen, dann das Fleisch von den Knochen pflücken und in kleine Stücke zerteilen: entweder direkt nach dem Kochen, ein paar Stunden oder einen Tag später. Für eine schnelle Version kann man auch Reste von einem gebratenen Hühnchen verwenden – solange es nicht zu trocken ist. Die Brühe durch ein feines Sieb seihen und für die Sauce verwahren.


Für die Sauce eine Mehlschwitze mit der Schalotte herstellen: die Butter schmelzen und die Schalottenwürfel darin glasig werden lassen (nicht bräunen), dann das Mehl hinzugeben und anschwitzen. Die Flüssigkeit zuerst in geringer Menge hinzugeben, mit einem Schneebesen oder Holzlöffel rühren bis wieder eine glatte Masse entsteht, immer wieder unter ständigem Rühren etwas (später mehr) Flüssigkeit hinzu gießen bis schlussendlich eine glatte Sauce ohne Klümpchen entsteht. Einen guten Schuß (oder ein kleines Glas) Weißwein hineingeben und wenige Minuten weiter kochen lassen bis die Sauce durch die Roux dicklich geworden ist. Hühnerfleisch, Kapern (nach Geschmack: ich liebe Kapern, also nehme ich ein kleines Gläschen), Sahne einrühren und das Frikassée mit Zitronensaft, Salz & Pfeffer abschmecken. Meine Oma hat ihr Hühnerfrikassée noch mit einem Eigelb legiert (einrühren und nicht mehr zu heiß werden lassen), traditionell werden auch noch entweder in Scheiben geschnittene weiße Champignons (in Butter geschwenkt) oder zarte weiße gekochte Spargelspitzen hinzugefügt: eine Symphony in creme mit kleinen olivfarbenen Kapern. Wir essen dies meist ohne Pilze oder Spargel, aber mit weißem Basmatireis und grünen Erbsen.

Sonoma chicken salad

Sonoma chicken salad by the james kitchen
Sonoma chicken salad, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.


And what to do with all the chicken leftovers? If you haven’t got any, you might want to cook an extra chicken (or grill some breasts) just for this chicken salad. I do not know anything about the origin of the name, several other recipes by this moniker use grapes which is quite logic since Sonoma is of course the beautiful wine country in California. Anyway, we used to buy the salad at Trader Joe’s (Whole Foods has a different version though for me the honey is a bit much) when we used to live in the Bay Area and the name stuck.

Sweet cranberries and pecans add a taste of the States, savoury celery brings crunch and the admittedly rich but tart & fruity dressing unites all of these flavours. Great with a few raw vegetables on the side to pick at, it unfolds its potential as prime picnic fare. Especially, when served with soft, dark malted bread and all the California sights at your doorstep to choose for lovely picnic spots (not that I ever took food into the big National Parks, the idea of wild bears ripping the roof of the car like the lid of a tin of sardines freaked me out quite a bit…).

Since we are about 5681.515 miles away right now we had to come up with our own recipe for this salad to transport us back to the balmy weather (Sunnyvale, says it all, I think), the toasted-wood smell of Redwood trees & the crescendo of strong waves crashing onto the beach at Half Moon Bay and our favourite, less crowded spot at Montara. As I said, this is great picnic fare and if you are in the area, here are a few suggestions for hikes & great scenic drives.

If you are further away (something like 5681.515 miles but who is counting), pack your hamper, crank up the underfloor heating and unfold your blanket. That this salad goes very well with a lovely white wine from Sonoma goes without saying.


Sonoma chicken salad
serves 6
The measurements are a little on the vague side here since most of the ingredients are to your own preferences and it is best to find your own mix: if you prefer pecans to cranberries, add more of those and fewer of these. My advice is though to go for roughly the same quantities with a little more chicken and celery.

Cold leftover chicken or cold grilled chicken breasts (around 450g or 1 lb)
2 handfuls dried cranberries, unsweetened
pineapple juice
3-4 celery ribs, diced
2-3 handfuls whole pecans
½ cup (ca. 120ml) mayonnaise (add less or more to taste or substitute a part by sour cream or yoghurt, if you want to make it a little less rich)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
salt & pepper

Macerate the cranberries in pineapple juice for about 20 to 30 minutes until they have plumped up a little. Keep the juice for the dressing. Pick over the carcass of your leftover chicken or chop the grilled breasts into bite-sized pieces. Add them to a bowl along with the cranberries, celery and pecans. Make the dressing by combining mayonnaise, cider vinegar (see if you need a little less or more depending on the kind of mayonnaise you are using, the sauce should have a tart apple-y taste), some of the reserved pineapple juice, poppy seeds and season with salt & pepper. You want to have quite a runny dressing for the chicken and other ingredients will suck up quite a lot of liquid while the salad rests. Mix with the chicken & co. and let the salad rest for about 1 to 2 hours for the flavours to meld & mingle. Adjust the seasoning and add some more pineapple juice if necessary. There is of course a lot of tasting required while the salad rests, naturally.


Auf deutsch: Sonoma Hühnchensalat
für 6 Personen, lecker für ein Picknick im Freien oder auch im Wohnzimmer.
Die Mengen der Zutaten variieren, man kann die Mischung nach eigenem Geschmack gestalten, so z.B. wenn man lieber Pekannüsse als Cranberries mag, nimmt man davon mehr und vom anderen weniger. Ich versuche ungefähr nach Augenmaß gleiche Mengen zu nehmen, aber ein wenig mehr Huhn und Bleichsellerie hinzuzugeben.

Kaltes Hühnchen oder gegrillte Hühnchenbrust (ca. 450g)
2 Handvoll getrocknete Cranberries, ungesüßt wenn möglich
3-4 Stangen Bleichsellerie, in Würfel geschnitten
2-3 Handvoll ganze Pekannüsse
½ Tasse (120ml) gute Mayonnaise (weniger oder mehr nach Geschmack, man kann auch einen Teil durch saure Sahne oder Yoghurt ersetzen um das Dressing etwas weniger reichhaltig zu machen, ich würde keine light-Produkte verwenden)
1 EL Apfelessig
2 EL Mohnsamen
Salz & Pfeffer

Die getrockneten Cranberries für ca. 20 bis 30 Minuten in Ananassaft einweichen, den Saft aufbewahren. Hühnerfleisch von der Karkasse ablösen falls Sie etwas vom Brathähnchen oder Suppenhuhn übrighaben oder die gegrillte Hünchenbrust in mundgerechte Stückchen schneiden und zusammen mit dem Bleichsellerie, den Cranberries und den Pekannüssen in eine Schüssel geben. Aus der Mayonnaise, dem Essig (mehr oder weniger Essig hinzugeben je nachdem was für eine Mayonnaise verwendet wird, das Dressing sollte schon etwas Apfelgeschmack und Säure haben), etwas von dem Ananassaft, dem Mohn sowie Salz & Pfeffer eine relativ flüssige Salatsauce herstellen, da die Zutaten einige Flüssigkeit aufsaugen werden. Die Sauce mit Huhn & Co. mischen und für ca. 1-2 Stunden ruhen lassen, damit sich die verschiedenen Geschmäcker miteinander verbinden können. Dann abschmecken und wenn erforderlich noch etwas mehr Ananassaft hinzugeben. Natürlich ist es absolut notwendig, daß der Salat während der Ruhezeit regelmäßig probiert wird – dies nur falls Sie jemand fragt.


Sunday supper: Za’atar roast chicken, kale salad & Piri Piri sauce

Piri Piri sauce by the james kitchen
Piri Piri sauce, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.


Two weekends ago we had a very nice and simple Sunday supper: Roast chicken with Za’atar, the fragrant Middle Eastern spice blend which combines woodsy thyme, tart sumac & nutty sesame seeds (Za’atar is very easy to find nowadays or to make your own, recipe here), sweet potatoes, a spicy Piri Piri sauce (listen, I do not claim this to be the authentic recipe, this is more ‘a sort of Piri Piri’ sauce) and to round it all of with a kale salad in a creamy-garlicky Caesar dressing with crisp Panko on top. We liked the curly kale salad that much (I did mention the dressing, did I?) that we build last Sunday’s supper around it as well and I am happy to report that it is good company to Macella Hazan & April Bloomfield’s gorgeous Veal shank with white wine & shallots (this is a video), too.

We Germans know or eat curly kale (Grünkohl) mostly as a hot dish, cooked with potatoes and smoked or cured meats & sausages or in particular area of Northern Germany it comes with a Barley sausage called Pinkel which is almost vegetarian and tastes much better than it looks. Some plates heaving with the works illustrate accurately what people commonly associate with German food but done right (and in smaller portions) Grünkohl is a fantastic dish and can be every bit as elegant and refined & veerrry tasty on top. Note to self: Better make it soon then.

Anyway, eating raw curly kale (Grünkohl) or black Tuscan kale (Lacinato kale, Cavolo nero, Palmkohl) might still pose as quite a discovery or novelty, I think, but even if you are a little timid and dub it as a bit too healthy & fibrous for you, let me assure you, slathering it in a Caesar dressing certainly makes up for that. See it as an initiation drug. The massaging (weird, I know, though effective) takes care of the hard fibres and softens both kale and hands.

Recipes in German: see next post / Rezepte auf Deutsch: siehe hier.

Sunday supper:
Za’atar roast chicken with sweet potato wedges, Piri Piri sauce & garlicky kale ‘Caesar’ salad

Za’atar Roast Chicken:
1 whole chicken (around 1.5kg or 3lbs, free-range or organic)
2-3 teaspoons Za’atar
salt & pepper
olive oil

Take your chicken about 1 hour to 30 minutes before you want to cook it out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400° F).

Drizzle some olive oil over the chicken, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle generously with the Za’atar spice blend. Place in the oven and roast for about 1 hour until the juices run clear (cut into the space between the legs & body). Serve whole & carve or cut into pieces.

Shortcut Piri Piri sauce:
adapted from Food & Wine Januar 2013; shortcut: I substituted the spicy Harissa paste instead of chopping various chiles

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red (bell) pepper, finely chopped (if you want it even faster, buy fire-roasted peppers in oil and blend)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup (60ml) water
2 tablespoons (or to taste) spicy Harissa
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, add the pepper, onion & garlic and cook over low heat for about 12-15 minutes until they are soft. Stir from time to time. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor, add the rest of the ingredients and blend into a puree. Season, adjust the spicyness to your taste and decant into a bowl or glass. Leave for one hour for the flavours to meld.

Sweet potato wedges:

1 sweet potato per person
olive oil

Wash the sweet potatoes and cut it (skin on) into wedges, toss with olive oil and season with salt. Place onto a preheated baking sheet and roast in the oven (200°C or 400° F) along the chicken for about 30-40 minutes depending on the thickness of your wedges. Stir a couple of times.

Garlicky kale salad with parmesan & panko:

This wonderful kale salad has curly kale cut into ribbons, squeezed = massaged & tossed in a lovely Caesar(-ish) dressing with roasted garlic and is finally sprinkled with parmesan and crunchy panko breadcrumbs. The recipe can be found on Tori Avey’s blog The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

chicken tagine with preserved lemons & green olives

There is a myriad of recipes for chicken with preserved lemons & olives, even the recipe leaflet for the Cherry red tagine dish that I got from my husband delivers one, naturally. Claudia Roden (well known to the British, Americans might be more familiar with Paula Wolfert as an authority on Moroccan cuisine) has several variations in her different books, which are wonderfully evocative just to read and imagine cooking yourself through the pages. My copies are festooned with post-its to mark future projects and this one was amongst the first things I had prepared when my friend Anke came for a visit. Alone ingredients like saffron, ginger, coriander and preserved lemons are enough to convince me to make this, especially when I get to make the salted lemons myself and have a jar of these pretty preserves stocked in my larder.I changed the recipe a little bit and cut the chicken beforehand into pieces since I find it easier to serve it this way (also: dividing a chicken that is doused in sauce at the table rarely leaves me without accidents and I hate to finish an evening by treating stains in clothes and tablecloths) and everyone can choose their own favourites. Just a little more onion thickens the sauce a tad, I find, and why not used a whole preserved lemon instead of just the peel: the preserved flesh acts as a seasoning that brings lemony saltiness to the dish (keep this in mind and watch how much salt you are adding before) and intensifies the lemon factor. Also, I hate to throw these things away.If you are planning to cook this, preserve the lemons first (see next recipe) since they need a month to mature or see if you can find them at a Middle Eastern grocer, although I think better supermarkets might even stock them nowadays. For impatient cooks, Gourmet magazine had devised an express version which boils the lemons as a short-cut to speed up the process and shrink the waiting time to just five days.For a Moroccan feast, start with a spread of mezze (or kemia as the small appetizer dishes are called in Morocco) to pick at: any freshly baked flatbread, a plate of hummus, the (Turkish) walnut & pomegranate paste muhammara, small salads and vegetable dishes (lots of recipes to come in the future), olives and and and. Serve the chicken in a tagine or pretty bowl with bread, couscous, larger bulgur wheat pearls (or rice if you prefer) and some green vegetables on the side.

Chicken tagine with preserved lemon & green olives
4-6 portions, adapted from Claudia Roden’s Tamarind & Saffron

1 free-range or organic chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces (legs, thighs & halved breasts with bones)
olive oil
1-2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt & pepper
bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped
bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
about 300ml (1/2 pint) water
1 whole preserved lemon (which is what I use) or the peel of 1-1½ preserved lemons cut into small pieces
75g (3oz) or more green olives (Roden soaks them 2 times in water, I don’t)

Arrange the chicken pieces along with the onion, garlic, saffron, ginger, cinnamon, salt & pepper, coriander and parsley in a tagine or a small cast-iron pan or dutch oven. Add the water to nearly cover the chicken but not entirely. Simmer with a closed lid for about 20-25 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over from time to time. Remove the cover, include the lemon and green olives in the sauce, cook for another 15-20 minutes without lid. The chicken should be tender and nearly fall of the bone and the sauce reduced to a fairly liquid herby-lemony concoction, adjust the seasoning and serve with bread, bulgur wheat, couscous or rice and a generous helping of green vegetables.

chicken & cheese empanadas

empanadas by the james kitchen
empanadas, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

When I buy a chicken for supper we always have a ton of leftovers and since it is a super french free range, Label rouge, grown up chicken, we want to use up every bit.

So, we might have a roast chicken to start with, the next day I will take it to pieces and save the bones and debris for stock (stash it in the freezer until there is a gathering of two or three carcasses to make a big batch of stock and there is the leisure time to do it). Then there is all the leftover meat and roughly a trillion things to use it for. Last time we made chicken & cheese empanadas baked in the oven (healthy baby) although we have freid them occasionally, too. The filling itself is savoury, garlicy, cheesy and crunchy – so tasty that you really have to stop yourself “testing” it all the time (for seasoning, of course, ähm, for seasoning, and what about the seasoning?). Check again for seasoning, if you must. The dough is so quick to make, although I find that it is hard to reuse the cut-offs since it gets unflexibile.Normally this amount of dough is enough for two greedy people and some lunch pickings for the next day or four reasonably behaved eaters.

Empanada dough

3 cups of all-purpose flour (type 405)

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of ice-cold water

1 egg + 1 egg white (use the remaining egg yolk to glaze the pastry)

1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons of cold butter, cut in cubes

Mix the eggs with the water and vinegar. Put the flour and salt into a food processor, add the butter pieces and blend with a few quick pulses. Add the wet ingredients and pulse again until a dough has just about come together. Of course, this could be made as well by hand or with a pastry blender. Knead the dough just a few times by hand to form a smooth ball and wrap the dough into cling film and cool for at least 1 hour. In the meantime, make the filling.

Preheat the oven to 180/200° C or 400° F. Roll out the dough about 3mm (1/8 inch) thick and cut out circles. Either larger or smaller circles depending on the size of your preferred empanada. We used a ravioli cutter with a diameter of 12 cm (4.5 inches) and got about 14 discs. Fill with about 1 heaped tablespoon of the chicken & cheese filling, close the empanadas, pressing the edges firmly together (if nobody gave you this handy gadget for Christmas, then use a fork to seal the pockets) and brush with the egg yolk (mixed with a dash of water). Bake for about 12 minutes. Depending on your empanada sizes adjust the timing. Of course, they could be fried in hot oil, too and will taste fabulous as well.

Chicken & cheese filling

left over chicken meat, chopped in pea size pieces

1 red onion, diced

1 red or yellow (bell) pepper, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons of pickled jalapenos, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin

salt, pepper, cayenne pepper or chili flakes

grated cheese ( I use 1/2 cheddar cheese and 1/2 middle-age gouda chesse), just about double the amount than chicken

Mix all the ingredients together, I like a little more cheese than chicken, but a fair amount of vegetables in the mixture. Generally I use what I have got and that has to do and usually is very tasty. Although I would keep these proportions as a guidance in mind. Adjust the seasoning, add more chili or jalapenos for more spice and maybe you will have to add some more cumin.

Dig in. So far we have never even tried a different filling. What is your favourite?