Ciao'd while watching Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Heartfelt and funny AF.
First, about that word "fricassee." A fricassee is halfway between a stew and a saute. It's a one-pot dish based on humble ingredients. This is the kind of food that Italians, and Marcella Hazan in this case, are particularly adept at preparing. And it's the kind of dish that's easy to enjoy again and again.
I am sharing Marcella's recipe for Fricasseed Chicken with Bay Leaves. She obtained the recipe from a Venetian friend of hers. Marcella says that the "spirited" flavor of this dish derives from robustly sauteing aromatics - onion, parsley, celery, and garlic - in olive oil, so their flavors infuse the oil and later, the chicken. Without the addition of more herbs and spices, the bay leaf's delicate, herbal flavor shines and its eucalyptus-like fragrance portends the savory dish to come.
FRICASEED CHICKEN WITH BAY LEAVES
I am guessing that Marcella used dried bay leaves in this recipe as they are the most readily available. I happen to have a stand of bay trees in my garden so I used fresh bay leaves. Should you wish to do the same, decrease the number of leaves from 4 dried to 2 fresh. This dish can be made a day ahead of serving. Add a few tablespoons of water and reheat gently. I like to serve it with polenta.
One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup very finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped Italian fat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup very finely chopped celery
1 large garlic clove, lightly mashed with the handle of a knife and peeled
4 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
Wash the chicken in cold water and pat thoroughly dry with kitchen towels.
Choose a saute pan or skillet in which the chicken pieces can later fit in a single uncrowded layer, without overlapping. Put in the olive oil and the chopped onion, turn on the heat to medium-high, and cook the onion, stirring frequently, until it becomes colored a light gold. Add the parsley, celery, and garlic and cook for about a minute, stirring frequently.
Put in the chicken pieces with the skin facing down. Brown them well on that side, then turn them and brown the other side. Add the bay leaves, salt, and generous grindings of black pepper, turning over the full contents of the pan with a wooden spoon.
When the chicken pieces have been deeply browned on all sides, add the white wine. While you let it bubble away completely, scrape loose with your wooden spoon any browning residues stuck to the pan. When the wine's alcohol has completely evaporated - you can smell it going - put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down to very low.
Turn the chicken pieces from time to time, and if the juices in the pan should become insufficient to keep the chicken from sticking, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Cook until the meat comes easily away from the bone, about 45 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve piping hot. Recipe from Marcella Cucina, by Marcella Hazan, Harper Collins, 1997.