Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chez Foushee: Richmond Bucket List #6*

Every now and again, I come across a dish in a restaurant that I absolutely want to make at home. Such was the case with Chez Foushee's Chicken Thigh Fricasee with Dried Cherries and Wild Mushrooms. Weeks passed, and I could not get that dish out of my mind. Eventually I wrote to Chez Foushee, and requested the recipe, promising to steer my dinner guests to this gem of a restaurant in Richmond.

Perhaps it is not surprising that I got no response. So I turned to Plan B: figure out how to replicate it myself. To do so, I noodled around the web, getting ideas here and there, but ended up relying most on Marcella Hazan's approach to fricasseed chicken in Marcella Cucina**. The result was pretty darn close to the homey but festive dish I had at Chez Foushee:

Antoinette Ego's Chicken Thigh Fricasee with Dried Cherries and Wild Mushrooms

Serves 4

4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick joined)
Flour for coating the chicken
1 cup mixed dried wild mushrooms
1 handful dried cherries
1 cup sweet vermouth
2 tbs olive oil
salt and black pepper
3 tbs chopped onion

1. Soak the mushrooms in barely hot water for at least 30 minutes. Lift out the mushrooms by hand, squeezing out as much water as possible. Set aside.
2. Filter the mushroom water through a strainer lined with single-ply paper towelling. Collect in a pouring cup and set aside.
3. Plump cherries in warmed vermouth.
4. Wash and dry chicken; spread flour on a plate and turn the chicken in it.
5. Choose a skillet that can accommodate all the chicken pieces in a single layer without overlapping (you may need to use two skillets). Put in oil and turn heat to medium-hi.
6. When the oil is heated, slip in the chicken and brown on one side.
7. When brown, add salt, black pepper and the chopped onion and turn over.
8. When the chicken is brown all over and the onion is golden, add 2-3 tbs vermouth from the cherry mixture. Turn the chicken over, cover the pan and turn heat to medium-low.
9. Cook chicken at a slow but regular simmer, replenishing with the liquid with filtered mushroom water as needed.
10. Turn the chicken over every once in a while. After 30-40 minutes, add the mushrooms and cherries.
11. Continue cooking until it looks like the meat would easily fall off the bone, about 50 minutes to an hour.
12. Can be served at once, or made several hours in advance and reheated.

Served with tri-colored couscous

Even though I have shared this recipe, I still want to encourage people to visit Chez Foushee. This is an  elegant and inviting restaurant, and one where I would have liked to have spent more time. Although it is close the the Carpenter Theatre, where we were headed, it is a shame to go here as a pre-theater option when you will inevitably be pre-occupied with leaving rather than lingering.

*As a result of "On Fumes Alone", Chris created a bucket list of Richmond restaurants for us to visit. This is the sixth of such visits. For a full list of visits, click here.

**Main differences from Marcella's recipe: I added the cherries and substituted sweet vermouth for marsala. I also preferred to leave the mushrooms whole rather than chopped fine, and to put them in the pan half way through the cooking process rather than at the beginning, so that they remain recognizable.

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