Chicken Fricassee makes a comeback in time for Seder
By Ronnie Fein, The Nosher
My mother made old-fashioned chicken fricassee Ashkenazi-Jewish style, with paprika, schmaltz and onions, but the method is simple, no matter what you include: Brown the ingredients, then simmer them slowly with liquid and seasonings.
The recipe is amazingly forgiving. Don’t worry about whether braising is best done on the stove top or in a slow oven — either will do. You can use wings, as my Mom did, or other parts. Leave out the meatballs or gizzards if you like; add vegetables such as potato, carrots, and mushrooms. My mother did all that, depending on what she had in the house.
You can also cook chicken fricassee in advance, which is perfect for your Seder.
16-20 oz. chopped beef, veal, turkey or a combination
1/2 cup matzah meal
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (or melted chicken fat)
12-15 chicken wings, cut into sections
1 pound chicken gizzards
3 medium onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. paprika, approximately
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups water, approximately
4 medium all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks, optional
4 carrots, cut into chunks, optional
10 oz. coarsely cut mushrooms, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the chopped meat, matzah meal and egg, and mix thoroughly. Shape the meat mixture into 1½-inch balls and place them on a large baking sheet.
Bake the meatballs for 16 to 18 minutes, turning them occasionally or until lightly browned on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the oven and set aside.
Reduce the oven heat to 300. Pour the vegetable oil into a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the wings a few at a time and cook them for six to eight minutes, turning them occasionally, or until lightly browned. Remove the wings from the pan and set aside.
Add the gizzards to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for four to five minutes or until lightly browned. Remove the gizzards from the pan and set aside.
Add the onions to the pan and cook them, stirring occasionally, for six to eight minutes or until lightly browned and softened.
Using the same pan (if large enough) or an ovenproof casserole, return the meatballs, wings and gizzards to the pan.
Spoon some of the onions on top of the meats. Sprinkle the ingredients with the paprika, salt and pepper. You might have to use layers, depending on the size of the pan; if so, season each layer before adding the next.
Pour in two cups of water. Either cover the casserole and bake the fricassee for 45 minutes or turn the cooktop heat to low, cover the pan and cook on the stove top for 45 minutes.
Add the optional ingredients if desired, cover the pan and cook an additional 50-60 minutes, or until the meats and vegetables are tender.
Check the pan occasionally and turn the ingredients gently if the ones on top seem dry. Check fluid levels and add more water if needed.