Rick Stein's Chicken Fricassée with Morels
For me, chicken with morels is as irresistible on a menu as turbot with hollandaise sauce. These days, I suppose people frown on a savoury dish with lots of cream in it, but the French invented this way of cooking and there is something so luscious and comforting about a beautiful free-range chicken cooked with a cream and wine sauce with the smoky flavour of dried morels. For me, this dish seems to be the very heart of French cuisine. It also happens to be a wonderful partner to a nice white Burgundy. There are variations of this dish. Traditionally it was made with poulet de Bresse and Savagnin, the Jura wine that has a slight sherry-like flavour. My preference is for Noilly Prat but sherry would be a good substitute. I don’t think that sharper wines like Sauvignon or Riesling work because the cream element is crème fraiche and there is too much acidity in those wines.
|4||boneless chicken breasts, skin on|
|1||banana shallot, finely chopped|
|100ml||Noilly Prat (or dry sherry)|
|300g||full-fat crème fraiche|
|salt and black pepper|
Soak the morels in the tepid water for about 15 minutes, then drain them in a fine sieve over a bowl. Strain the liquid and reserve 75ml for the sauce. Rinse the morels under cold running water to remove any debris and dry them on kitchen paper. Cut them in half lengthways.
Melt half of the butter in a large sauté pan or frying pan. Fry the chicken, skin-side down, for 2–3 minutes until light golden brown, then turn them over and repeat on the other side. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside.
Add the remaining butter to the pan. Fry the shallot over a medium heat until softened, then add the morels and chestnut mushrooms and fry for a few minutes. Add the Noilly Prat or sherry, the morel soaking liquid and chicken stock, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 2–3 minutes.
Add the crème fraiche and stir, then put the chicken back in the pan, along with any juices that have seeped out. Cover the pan and cook the chicken over a medium heat for about 8 minutes or until it is cooked through. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper and serve immediately with pilaf rice (page 303 of Rick Stein's Secret France) or potatoes.