Cookbook Countdown, a cooking event conceived by fabulous food bloggers Emily and Joyce, has been a great incentive for me to cook from my long-ignored cookbooks. I'm focusing on Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking this month. Chicken Fricassee with Porcini Mushrooms, White Wine, and Tomatoes and Warm Cauliflower Salad are the most recent recipes I tried.
Julia Child describes a fricassee as "halfway" between a sauté and a stew: the chicken pieces are first lightly cooked in a pan, then some liquid is added and the meat is braised. Wine and the soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms made up the liquid portion in this recipe and the rehydrated mushrooms and some tomatoes were also included. The lid was kept slightly ajar during cooking so the liquid reduced to make an incredibly flavourful sauce.
The chicken was moist and tender but really derived most of its flavour from the wonderfully rich mushroom sauce. I had planned to make the polenta recipe from the book as a side but after noticing the paragraph on "cleaning the pot", which involved an overnight soak and a vinegar-salt scrub, I decided to make the instant polenta I had in my pantry instead. All I can say is thank goodness for the mushroom sauce ;)! Next time I'll use the regular and try Marcella's recipe.
The cauliflower dish was a big success and a reminder that a lightly cooked vegetable seasoned with salt and pepper and dressed with good olive oil and red wine vinegar is as delicious as it is simple.
I'll be checking out the "Desserts" chapter for my next recipe.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.