It is a tribute to the cooking method, that of the thirteen recipes for chicken, five of them are fricassees. Personally, I feel that I lucked into the best of the five.
We had houseguests coming for the weekend, so I decided it was a fitting time to serve this dish. They called as they boarded their plane in Minneapolis and I began cooking. As the aroma of the cabbage and onions began to fill the house, Dan wondered into the kitchen to express concern that I was smelling up the place. I told him not to worry, both of our guests love cabbage. By the time they arrived it was ready to put on the table. They left their luggage in the front hall and followed their noses to the kitchen. Dan need not have worried.
Ingredients were simple and few. First, a beautiful head of red cabbage finely shredded. I wanted the uniformity that my not-top-of-the-line food processor doesn’t offer, so I used a cross-cut blade on the mandolin. Sometimes there is no substitute for elbow grease. Hmm, I wonder if that translates as an idiom. If I said "grasso di gomito" would it make sense?
Onions and garlic are sautéed in oil until golden brown, then the cabbage is added and the pan covered. With the heat turned to a gentle simmer, the cabbage cooks for about 40 minutes.
While the cabbage cooks, the chicken is cut into pieces. Marcella recommends eight pieces, however I wanted all of the servings to be similar in size, and the breast halves were huge. So I left the thigh and leg together. That gave me four servings with a couple of wings to spare. The chicken was browned in another pan.
After browning, the dark meat of the chicken is added to the cabbage along with wine and pepper. After another 40 minutes or so of simmering, the reserved breast meat is added for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, the cabbage has dissolved into a wonderfully sweet sauce with a consistency close to course applesauce.
This hearty dish needs very little accompaniment to satisfy. Some herbed roasted carrots, a mixed green salad, and fresh bread were sufficient. Before the first bite, we toasted Marcella with glasses of Norton. As you can see, everyone enjoyed the meal.
Dessert was Black and White Macerated Grapes. (page 608) You’ll read about them and see the pictures on May 10th, 2011.