Chicken Fricassee, Deconstructed

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Chicken Fricassee was one of the first meat dishes I made for Olive when she was a baby, just starting out on solids.  (The first meat she had was homemade beef ragu – I kinda threw the rule books out when it came to feeding her and I haven’t regretted it a single day.)  I made the dish from that month’s Martha Stewart Magazine and took a little bit of each component and blended it up with a little extra chicken stock. Olive consume it with a great fury.  The flavors are so simple and so rich – it truly is a comfort food dish.  And if you think it’s “fancy” because it has a French name, fear not – it’s basically a chicken pot pie without the pie.  All those amazingly comforting flavors of chicken soup, thyme, carrots, peas, cream gravy, butter – they’re all there.  You serve it over rice or pasta and revel in the comfort.  It’s not difficult and it tastes like pure love.

I’ve made that Martha Stewart version several times, but for this recipe, I worked out of the Bonne Femme cookbook and decided to deconstruct it because Olive is able to eat each component just chopped up small, but not big enough to tackle chicken still on the bone.  So I cooked the chicken, shredded it after it had cooled, and then assembled, garnishing with the pan gravy at the very end for an easy to eat version that everyone really loved.

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Deconstructed Chicken Fricassee*
serves 4

2.5-3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (legs, thighs, breasts, whatever – I used the whole chicken in pieces)
salt and pepper
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 a white onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (or more chicken broth, if you don’t have any)
1 bay leaf
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 x 2″ sticks
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs AP flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
2 tbs chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or stock pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off all but a tbs of fat from the pan.

Add the onion to the pan and cook briefly, stirring, until fragrant.  Add the chicken broth and wine, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Then, scatter the carrots and pearl onions around the chicken; cover and simmer until the chicken is done (internal temp should register 170 on an instant read thermometer), about 15 minutes more.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large bowl; cover with foil to keep warm.  Discard the bay leaf.  Pour the pan juices into a measuring cup and set aside.  Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour with a wire whisk to make a smooth paste.  Cook and stir for one minute.  Slowly add the pan juices back to the pan, stirring with a wire whisk until smooth.  Cook the mixture until it boils and thickens, then continue to cook for one minute more.  Whisk in enough milk to make a sauce of the desired consistency and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the tarragon, parsley and lemon juice.

I then shredded up the chicken by hand, scattered an equal amount into each bowl over a heap of rice, arranged the vegetables on top of the chicken and then spooned my pan sauce over everything and cracked a lot of black pepper on top of that!  There’s something magical about fresh black pepper and a rich chicken dish.  It’s just perfect.

Enjoy!

*adapted from the Bonne Femme cookbook, which is perfect

Rosemary Crusted Pork Chop with Coconut Milk Braised Carrots

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This is a good meal for many reasons.  The pork chops were actually a good thickness, and lean, and were buy one pack, get another pack for free (4 really thick chops in each package.  I get ridiculously excited for discounts in the meat department.)   I bought a 5 pound bag of carrots two weeks ago, and so I am currently looking for different ways to prepare them, and found a stunningly simple and flavorful way on one of my favorite blogs, French Foodie Baby.  Say what you will about my French obsession, but those people KNOW their food, and from a very loving depth that centers around family and love of pure ingredients.  Helene, from FFB, is one of the best writers in the myriad of food blogs out there. I literally exhale with relaxation when I read her posts.  She challenges me and inspires me and makes me want to be better at being thoughtful about what I put on the plate for my family.

The braised carrots in coconut milk was from her blog and I just took the concept and did it in a much bigger batch on my stove so that I’d have leftover finger foods for Olive for the week.  And so I could use up the never ending bag of carrots.  I swear that thing is multiplying.

I don’t know much, but I do know that pork and rosemary are best friends.  So when I saw that Helene put rosemary in with her coconut milk to braise the carrots, I thought: instant pan sauce!  And it turned out wonderful!  The extra sauce from the carrots made an amazing garnish for a thick, crispy, rosemary-infused pork chop!  I was happy with this meal and wanted to share its simplicity and comfort-food qualities with you today!

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Rosemary Crusted Pork Chop with Coconut Milk Braised Carrots
serves 4-6

4 boneless pork chops, thick cut, if you can find them (the ones I found were about an inch thick)
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper – about a half teaspoon of each
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary – I would think dried would be fine, but it wouldn’t be as aromatic
4 tbs butter or olive oil for pan frying the chops

For the carrots:
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped into half inch rounds
1 can of coconut milk
2 cloves of garlic, crushed but left mostly in tact
two sprigs of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Get the carrots on the stove to braise first, as they take the longest.  In a deep skillet, heat the coconut milk over medium heat along with the cloves of crushed garlic and the rosemary sprigs.  Add in the carrots and let it simmer on the stove until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.  I put a lid on halfway through as to not lose too much moisture.  When the carrots are done, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

For the chops: pat them dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.  Put the flour and rosemary and a few dashes more of salt and pepper in a bowl and toss well to combine.  Coat each side of the chops in the flour mixture and set aside.  Heat the butter or olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering (or bubbling if using butter) and add in the chops, cooking about 5-6 minutes per side.  If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat after you get a good sear/crust on each side of the chop.  If your chops are really thick, you may need to transfer them to a preheated oven to finish cooking.  I had to do this for one of the chops because it was way bigger than the rest and wouldn’t cook through without burning the crust.  At any rate, you need a meat thermometer for this because we no longer have to cook our pork to death to be safe.  Some farmer told me that no one’s gotten sick from pork in years, but everyone is still cooking it like they could.  A pink center is fine – I made sure mine got up to 150-160 and called it good, regardless of how the centers looked.

Place the chops on plates and for the sauce garnish, move the carrots to a bowl, reserving about a 1/2 cup of the coconut milk in the pan.  Taste for salt and season as necessary.  Remove the rosemary sprigs and the cloves of garlic and spoon the sauce over each chop and serve alongside the carrots.  If you don’t cook the chops too much, they will be soft enough for a baby to chew, given she has at least 3 molars, which mine does.  She loved the carrots (she’s 15 months old) and ate a few pieces of pork and called it good.  And lately, that has to be good enough for me!  For smaller babies, the carrots would be IDEAL pureed or just left in tact for finger foods.  They are so soft, sweet and a little salty – perfect! I would have blended up the pork with some coconut milk back in the 6-9 month days for Olive.

Enjoy!