A French Chicken Fricassée is the perfect combination of simplicity and comfort. This French classic featuring chicken seared in butter and then braised in white wine, likely knows as many variations as there are grandmothers in France – and for good reason. It is a simple single-pot recipe that uses humble ingredients, comes together easily and is very versatile. With shallots and bacon, this version of a Chicken Fricassée is deliciously sweet, salty, and full of comfort.
What is a “Fricassée”, exactly?
A Fricassée is half way between a sautéed dish and a stew. This French classic isn’t a unique recipe but rather a cooking method that can be done in countless variations. The idea is to start by sautéing meat in a pan (in butter) to get it browned and crisp. White wine is then added and the meat gets braised in the oven along with vegetable and aromatics, until tender and full-flavored.
Fricassée is usually made with chicken but can also be made with veal or rabbit. The rest of the recipe is often up to the cook’s discretion – you can add any vegetables or fixings of your choosing. Mushrooms, carrots and onions are pretty common, but the possibilities are truly endless.
Some old-fashioned versions of Fricassée, known as “à l’Ancienne” in French call for thickening the sauce at the end with heavy cream. This of course makes for a richer and creamier sauce. Modern Fricassée recipes often skip the heavy cream to make for a lighter dish.
In today’s recipe, I chose to add shallots and bacon to create a delicious mix of sweet and salty flavors. The shallots turn melty and caramelized while the bacon offers salty bites. I also chose not to add cream to keep it on the lighter side. This makes for a quick, easy, year-round recipe that is full of flavors and absolute comfort.
Which white wine to choose for a Chicken Fricassée?
Cooking with white wine is a great way to build a balance of fruity and acidic flavors in your recipe. As you cook your dish, the alcohol evaporates and the flavors of the wine deepens – which is why it is important to choose the right wine, so you don’t end up with a finished dish that is overly sweet or overwhelming.
For a Chicken Fricassée, or for any wine braised chicken recipe really, I almost always recommend using a white wine that is dry and crisp. A dry white is any white wine that isn’t sweet. And for cooking a Chicken Fricassée, you want to choose a wine that has a high acidity, which is refered to as “crisp” in wine terminology.
Some of my recommendations are:
- Sauvignon Blanc – this is my go-to white wine for cooking. It provides a great acidity.
- Pinot Grigio – a neutral white wine, which makes is easy to cook with and very versatile.
- Unoaked Chardonnay – this one is slightly richer than the two above.
- Dry Marsala – it adds lovely nutty notes and creates a great caramelization.
- Dry Sparkling wine – it is a light and crisp option. Note that the bubbles dissipate when cooking, so you won’t notice this was a sparkling wine.
In any case, avoid opting for sweet white wines (ie. Riesling, Sauternes) which will create over-caramelization and/or sweetness to the finish dish. Also avoid full-bodied, rich and/or oaky white wines (ie. Oaked Chardonnay) which have a tendency to develop bitter undernotes when cooking.
Lastly, you shouldn’t necessarily reach for a “cheap” bottle, but one that is still drinkable – trust me, it will really make a difference. Forget the “cooking wines” from the grocery store!
More Cooking notes:
- I recommend you salt your chicken beforehand (2 to 3 hours before), to allow the salt to penetrate the meat. If you’re interested in knowing more about how salt is used to build and enhance flavor in food (especially for meats), I recommend the book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat.
- Leaving the skin on the chicken is essential to this recipe. The chicken will be first cooked, skin-side down, in the pan. The fat from the skin will melt and render into the pan, and be used later to caramelize the shallots and garlic, and as a base for the sauce. It will contribute greatly to building flavors in this dish. You can choose to remove the skin later – in your plate, once the dish is served.
- Instead of chicken thighs, you can substitute skin-on chicken legs.
- Use a pot/pan/skillet that can go from the stove-top to the oven.
I hope you’ll love this Chicken Fricassée with Shallots and Bacon as much as I do! This is a simple yet impressive recipe that you can make year-round. You can serve it with rice, pasta and/or green beans.
You may also like:
- Chicken Provençal with Olives and Cherry Tomatoes
- Creamy French Chicken Tarragon (Poulet à l’Estragon)
- Clementine Roast Chicken with Fennel and Honey
- Simple Chicken Marengo with Mushrooms
- Braised Chicken Thighs with Garlic and Onion
4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 slices bacon, cut in fine strips
2 tbsp (28.5g) unsalted butter, divided
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
8 shallots (about 400g total), peeled and cut in half (or quarters if too big)
7-8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup (79ml) dry white wine
Step 1 - 2 to 3 hours prior to cooking, rinse the chicken thighs under cold water and pat-dry thoroughly with paper towel. Season each piece with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside and let rest to near room temperature. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F (180°C) with a rack in the middle.
Step 2 - Heat up a large oven-safe frying pan (or skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon strips and cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fully cooked and lightly crisp. Set aside, leaving the fat drippings in the pan.
Step 3 – Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. When the butter sizzles, place the chicken thighs, skin-side down, in the pan. Cook for about 8-10 minutes (uncovered) until the chicken skin is golden to golden brown. Flip the chicken thighs and cook for 6-7 more minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Keep the chicken drippings in the pan.
Step 4 - Lower the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of butter to the pan. When the butter sizzles, add the shallots and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are tender and lightly caramelized. As you cook the shallots, some may separate and some may keep their layers together - that is perfectly fine. Nestle the chicken thighs back into the pan. Pour the white wine into the pan, top chicken pieces with bacon and thyme sprigs, season to taste with extra black pepper (optional) and transfer the pan into the oven for 30 minutes (uncovered).
Remove from the oven and serve.