Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Friggin' Chicken Friccasee
I really like braised chicken (which is what this is) and the tiny meatballs add a little je ne sais quoi (which is French for "WTF?").
This is very freely adapted from The New York Times Jewish Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton.
First the meatballs: I've tried using ground chicken and it was fine but very lean ground beef or veal is far better. All you need is a pound but it must be very lean; at least ground round; sirloin is better. Grind it yourself if you like. Mix in an egg and a half tsp. each of onion powder and garlic powder or double each if you prefer fresh onion and garlic. Stir in a half-teaspoon of salt, a half tsp. black pepper and a half-cup of bread crumbs, fresh if possible. Matzo meal or cracker meal can be substituted. Make little meatballs (approx. 1 inch in diameter). Set aside.
Get a chicken: A 3-4 lb. fryer or equal weight in legs, thighs, breasts — whatever you like (my family prefers dark meat, so drumsticks and thighs, or just thighs). If using a whole chicken, cut into eight or ten pieces (split the breasts if they're large). Rinse the chicken pieces thoroughly, dry with a paper towel, then trim loose-hanging skin and pull off pieces of fat.
Render the fat: Heat a large pot or Dutch oven. Cut up the discarded skin and chicken fat, and add to the pot. Don't let it burn or smoke. After about ten minutes (give or take), the fat and skin will be crisp and the renderings will be will be golden. Pour off the majority of the rendered fat and leave just enough to coat the bottom of the pot. Remove the crisp bits and discard (or salt and eat).
Brown the meatballs: Add them gently to the hot pot and brown until they lose their rawness (about five minutes). Remove from pot and set aside. Wipe the bottom of the pot with a heavy paper towel, scrape any burnt bits with a spatula, then reheat.
Fry an onion or two: Pour a little bit of the rendered chicken fat into the pot (enough to cover the bottom). Slice (or chop) two medium onions, then drop into the heated pot and gently cook. Remove from pot when golden (but not brown) and set aside.
Brown the chicken pieces: You won't need to add any fat; the skin should release sufficient oil, but if you like, add a bit of the rendered fat to the bottom of the pot first. Brown the chicken in batches evenly (don't crowd the pan) and don't allow it to blacken or burn. When the chicken skin is golden and visible meat is no longer pink, remove from pot, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and hold. Pour off any remaining fat and return the pot to the stove to reheat.
Return the fried onions to the pan, add 2 chopped or thinly-sliced garlic cloves, stir for a minute then add 2 tbs. paprika (sweet, not hot or smoked). Stir and cook for a half-minute.
Add a cup of water and a small can of tomato juice. Or substitute tomato sauce or a quarter cup of ketchup. Add the chicken pieces to the pan then the meatballs on top of them. The liquid should cover the chicken at least halfway (but not completely.) Add more water if necessary. Cover the pot loosely and simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve with noodles, boiled or mashed potatoes, rice, barley or quinoa. Or French bread, pita etc.
If making ahead of time, remove chicken and meatballs, cool liquid and remove surface fat before reheating with the chicken and meatballs.
Call or e-mail me if you make it then set a plate.
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