Chicken Fricassée

Our story begins in the fantastically small town of Lacassine, Louisiana. Grandma Domingue had a tiny garden laced with fig trees. The summers were filled with air perfumed with honey. There was a stillness, a silence where you could hear your own toes curl the deep, green grass. The scene would be quite picturesque with one exception. If your little feet could make it over to the edge of the property, way in the back, there was a cage and its contents contained the meanest chickens on the face of the earth. They were to be punished, enclosed in wire and fed only corn and water, a prisoners diet. My great grandfather hated one in particular. He hatefully yet adoringly called it Hemorrhoid because this chicken was a pain in his derrière (it sounds better in French, non?). Let’s just say that on one uncharacteristically quiet evening, my family enjoyed a chicken fricassée, or jokingly referred to by my great grandfather, hemorrhoid fricassée. Gross associations aside, this dish reminds me of the death of a demonic-people-pecking chicken. And still, I am unable to take a bite out of this dish without smiling a little. This chicken probably had it coming too.

Recipe: Adapted from John Besh’s My Family Table

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

3 bone in chicken breast

3 bone in chicken thighs

2 onions, diced

4 stalks of celery, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 24-ounce can of whole tomatoes

1 quart of chicken broth

1 pound of carrots, peeled and chopped

1 pound of turnips, diced

½ pound of Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces

¼ cup of finely chopped parsley

Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

In a heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over high heat. Add the chicken to the pot, skin side down. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Once golden brown, flip the chicken pieces over. Once brown on both sides, remove from pot and continue with the rest of the chicken. Add the onions to the drippings from the chicken and cook until softened. Add the celery and garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Add the tomatoes and crush with spoon. Season the mixture. Add the broth and season again. Add the chicken back to the pot, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the carrots, turnips and potatoes to the pot and cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken starts to fall off of the bone. Add the parsley to the pot and stir. Serve over rice.