Cookbook Mania! Beard on Birds–Brown Fricassee of Chicken

by Sarah on October 21, 2010

There’s probably a joke somewhere in the title of this book…

But as Mr. Beard was probably well aware of the situation, I’ll leave it be.  For now.  I realized recently that we haven’t had a ‘Cookbook Mania’ entry in a while, and I’m always a sucker for a James Beard recipe.  Besides, Guido had defrosted 3 huge packages of chicken legs for some reason and my mind went blank.  Thank god James Beard wrote a whole book on poultry!

The recipe I chose, based simply on what ingredients I had on hand, is Brown Fricassee of Chicken.  I altered it a bit though, so I’ve got the printed recipe below along with my version.

So.  Mise en place.  Minced garlic.  Mirepoix.  Carrot, onion, celery.

Dredge your chicken parts lightly in flour.

Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  (That’s a lot of chicken for 4 people)

In a Dutch oven, heat butter (and olive oil, if desired) and brown all the chicken pieces.  I worked in batches because of the large number of chicken legs, but if you can do it without crowding, be my guest.

Remember, you’re just getting some color on them, don’t worry about them not being cooked through.

Once all the chicken pieces are browned, add all the chicken to the pot, and add the vegetables and a sprig of fresh thyme.

Add 3 cups chicken broth.  I think I put in some white wine too, just the dregs of a bottle left in the fridge.

Bring just to a boil, lower the heat and gently simmer, mostly covered until the chicken is tender–about 45 minutes.

When the chicken is tender and wants to fall off the bone if you look at it cross-eyed, take it out of the pot and put it onto a platter to rest.

Bring the braising liquid to a boil and let it reduce by about half.

Add cream–or in my case, milk, because I didn’t have any cream–and let boil until the sauce is thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.

You can put the chicken back if you want, or just serve the sauce on the side.

Definitely make some rice to soak up some of the good sauce.

Click below to enlarge!

What is it with fall that makes me want to eat saucy comforting food?  I don’t know, and I apologize if you’re already tired of it, but if saucy comfort food is wrong I don’t want to be right.

James Beard's Brown Fricassee of Chicken


  • 6 lbs chicken legs or whatever parts you like
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper, flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (approx 1 cup)
  • 1 large or 2 smaller carrots, chopped (approx 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 ribs celery, chopped (approx 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine (optional--if not using, use larger amount of stock)
  • 1 cup cream or half-and-half


  • Dredge chicken pieces in flour, knocking off the excess. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces in batches.
  • When all chicken is brown, add all back to the pot and add in the vegetables, garlic and thyme. Pour in the stock and wine, if using. Bring just to a boil, lower the heat and partially cover the pot. Let cook until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. It should be near to falling off the bone.
  • Remove chicken back to the platter and bring the braising liquid to a boil. Let reduce by about half. Add in the cream or half-and-half and bring back to a boil until the sauce thickens. Season again with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with cooked rice, feeds an army.

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