Fricot à la Poule

Hiver 2010
food and drink

BY: Marilyn Bentz-Crowley

This saucy Acadian stew is often steamed with dumplings called grands-pères which here are oven-baked for golden tops.

2 oz (60 g) salt pork or 2 tbsp (25 mL) unsalted butter and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
Splash of vegetable oil if needed
1 chicken, cut into pieces
6 cups (1.5 L) cold water
1 cup (250 mL) diced onion
1 cup (250 mL) diced carrot
1 cup (250 mL) diced celery
½ cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
2 to 3 medium Yukon gold or similar potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tsp (10 mL) dried summer savoury
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
¾ tsp (4 mL) balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley

¾ cup (175 mL) quick-cooking rolled oats, divided
1½ cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (75 mL) cold unsalted butter
1 cup (250 mL) milk
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley

1. Cut salt pork into thin strips called lardons (imagine breakfast bacon strips cut crosswise into short ¼-inch (5-mm) pieces). In a wide and deep pan such as a chicken fryer or large pot, sauté salt pork over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until well rendered and bits are browned. Remove bits; set aside. Add a splash of vegetable oil to pan if there is not a slick of fat or add butter if not using pork.

2. Meanwhile, remove and discard chicken skin. Sauté chicken pieces in 2 batches for 5 minutes a side in hot pan (used for pork) over medium to medium-high heat, or until richly browned. (Chicken will not be cooked through.) Return all chicken to pan. Add water; bring just to a low boil. Skim off and discard any foam that forms. Reduce heat to low, cover and slowly simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Remove chicken from broth; cool until able to handle. Then, remove and discard bones. Cut chicken into chunky pieces; immediately cover and refrigerate. Strain broth into a large 2-qt (2-L) measuring cup or bowl. Skim fat, reserving 2 tbsp (25 mL).

4. Return pan to medium heat; add reserved fat. When hot, add diced onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often for 8 minutes or until vegetables are brightly coloured and onion is transparent. Stir flour into vegetables; cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute.

5. Slowly add broth while stirring constantly. Add pork bits, potatoes and summer savoury. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring at least every 10 minutes. Stir in pepper and vinegar—and salt if using butter. (Stew can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days, however, do not freeze. Reheat until hot before continuing.) Add chilled chicken; heat until hot. Stir in parsley. Taste and add more seasoning as needed; keep hot.

6. Meanwhile, place rack above oven centre; preheat to 450°F (230°C).

7. Measure ¼ cup (50 mL) of oats into a mixing bowl with all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Whirl remaining oats in a food processor until flour-like; stir into flour mixture. Grate or finely cut butter into flour mixture. Stir in milk until soft “drop biscuit” dough (see TIP) forms.

8. Turn hot chicken mixture into a 9 x 13-inch (3 L) baking dish. Drop biscuit mixture in dollops on top. Immediately bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden. Strew with parsley; serve with green beans or asparagus.

Tip: There are many types of biscuits, the most familiar being cut-out and drop. In the cut-out method, the dough is kneaded, patted out and cut with a circular cutter before being placed on top of a stew. Drop biscuits are just that, the somewhat moist dough is dropped from a spoon on top of a bubbling stew.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

What to Serve

10 Bonus AIR MILES®