The cooking lexicon is full of terrific words, and "fricassee" is one of my favorites. In the dictionary it's described in general terms as meat that's been cut into pieces and stewed. To my ears it sounds home-spun American, but it actually comes from a French word, fricasser, which means... well... to stew meat that's been cut into pieces. Not even the Oxford English Dictionary knows where fricasser comes from.
Julia Child gives a definition for "fricassee" (as does the Epicurious Food Dictionary) that describes much better how the technique is most often understood. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she writes that a fricassee is a way of cooking chicken that incorporates both sautéeing and stewing. She goes on to say that it's "an ideal technique for ahead-of-time dishes, as the chicken loses none if its essential qualities if it is allowed to cool in its sauce and is then reheated."
It's done as follows: rinse, pat dry and generously salt-and-pepper some bone-inRead More »from Chicken and Swiss Chard Fricassee