President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is February 12, and his favorite foods (at least per the first page of google results of my internet research) included simple plain food like fruit, nuts, crackers and cheese, as well as Chicken Fricassee with biscuits, oyster stew, and apple pie. So I decided to make a vegetarian version of chicken fricassee.
As my base, I decided to follow this recipe of Thomas Jefferson’s Chicken Fricassee via CD Kitchen in order to also pay respects to also past awesome president Thomas Jefferson (sometimes called “America’s founding foodie” because he was such a lover of food) and which seasons the chicken at the start, while also reducing it to feed 4 people. Reducing the recipe made it easier mathematically so I could also combine it with what was the deliciousness of Martha Stewart’s version that uses a mirepoix and fresh tarragon. I knew that since I was using fake chicken instead of actual chicken that meant I needed to up the flavor of the broth in some way.
Cooking fricassee is in between making a sauté and a stew where you need to let the flavors get absorbed over a long time- so the first half is all sautéing, and then there is 30 minutes of just letting the flavors open up while it all stews together.
I happen to like Quorn‘s chicken (which they call chik’n) the best- they have both basic meat substitute options like what I’m using here so I can cook my own versions of recipe but I also love their prepared meal options particularly their breaded fake chicken line that includes cutlets that are with gruyere or stuffed with jalapeno and three cheese. Clearly it doesn’t taste like real chicken, but even for someone like me that still knows what meat tastes like (unlike F who has been without for more than a decade), the taste is still pretty good.
The original recipe called for various pounds of chicken, which I loosely translated to two 12 ounce packages of the frozen chik’n pieces Quorn offers. Each package is listed to supposedly have 4 servings, but I think that is only possible if you are serving the chik’n in the same quantities as you would actual chicken meat as part of a meal that included other dishes- and consider that each serving is 80 calories.
- 2 12 ounce packages of Quorn “chik’n tenders”, which you can find in the healthy/natural freezer section
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 4 tablespoons butter, separated in 2 2-tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup of diced onion
- 1/2 cup of diced carrot
- 1/3 cup of diced celery
- 8 ounces of fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, or 1 teaspoon of dried chopped parsley
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon of dried chopped thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2/3 cup half and half cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- biscuits or noodles or rice, dealer’s choice
- Sprinkle the chik’n pieces with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika and mix.
- On medium high heat, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter with the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a good size pot as everything is going to eventually go into this pot, use a Dutch oven if you have one. I don’t, so I used my super XL deep pan. Warm the chik’n until it no longer looks frozen and could passable look like chicken pieces and is fragrant, depending on how much surface area you have try to brown the chik’n if you can. I admit I added a little smidge more of butter because it got absorbed to get a little hint of browning, but I was also heating this in a pot to start until I realized I had a giant pan. Remove just the chik’n to a plate.
- Next, add the other 2 tablespoons of butter and melt, and add in the mirepoix (onion, carrot, and celery) to your Dutch oven/humongo pan and let it sit on the heat for a while until the onion is golden and has specks of brown. Be patient, as sweating these down will take about 8 to 10 minutes and you only want to stir every once in a while to scrape/even out the brown bits.
- Now add in the mushrooms and continue to stir occasionally until the mushrooms have darkened and begun to release their liquids. At this point, reduce heat to medium, and add the 2 tablespoons off flour, and cook for another minute until all the flour disappears.
- Add in the water and wine. Return the chik’n to the pot and add the parsley and thyme (I used dried herbs here) and bring everything to a boil. Now cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, simmer, simmer it for 30 minutes. While this is happening, feel free to make your biscuits, or noodles, or rice, whatever you want to serve this chicken fricassee with.
- Now, the finishing touches. Reduce the heat to your lowest setting possible, and slowly pour in the cream to thicken the sauce, stirring constantly (so you could possibly use other options such as yogurt or silken tofu in theory). Add the fresh tarragon and sage, and the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, stir gently to combine, and serve.
Let me assure you now that even though this uses chik’n, this dish is phenomenal tasty. F liked eating it just out of the pan, so the carbs are quite optional. But President Lincoln liked it with biscuits, so here we are. Lincoln didn’t really drink, but feel free to enjoy the rest of the dry white wine (I used a French bottle of Vignobles Fontan Domaine de Maubet Blanc Sec) with your meal.