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Chicken Fricassee with Lemon, Saffron, and Green Olives

From the book The 150 Best American Recipes by and
Serves 4


This Provençal recipe, from Reagan Walker at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, makes a great dinner-party dish.


1 chicken (about 3½ pounds), cut into 8 pieces
~ Coarse salt
~ Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken broth
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 oz. cracked and pitted green olives (about ¼ cup)
1 Tbsp. freshly crushed coriander seeds
1 to 2 large pinches of saffron
~ Juice of 1 lemon
¾ cup heavy cream
1 preserved lemon, quartered and sliced (see note)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, thick stems discarded and leaves chopped, for garnish


  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, turning with tongs, for about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic, and sauté until the vegetables are limp but not browned.
  2. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, olives, coriander seeds, and saffron, and return to a boil.
  3. Cover the pan with parchment paper and then with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and keep warm. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the lemon juice, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned vegetables. Add the cream and preserved-lemon slices and boil until the liquid is reduced by half or until slightly thickened.
  5. Strain, if desired (though the bits taste great), and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and scatter the cilantro over the top. Serve immediately.


To double this recipe and serve 8, you’ll need two large sauté pans.

The nice part of cutting up a whole chicken is that you get a mix of white and dark meat. If you’d rather not cut up a chicken, use chicken pieces, preferably a mix of breasts and thighs. You’ll need about 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces.

Preserved lemons can be found in markets that specialize in Middle Eastern foods or in gourmet specialty stores. Alternatively, you can substitute 1 small lemon, unpeeled and very thinly sliced, and add the slices to the chicken along with the tomatoes and olives.

This content is from the book The 150 Best American Recipes by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens.

There are 2 comments on this item
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100% recommend this recipe
1. by dgreenwood on Dec 8, 2010 at 1:54 PM PST

This is a wonderful dish and a nice variant on the Moroccan chicken theme for using preserved lemons (which are easy to make but you have to start them 3-4 weeks before cooking.) I have subbed evaporated milk for the heavy cream with good success for a less decadent sauce.

2. by Dallee Kenner on Apr 4, 2012 at 10:11 AM PDT

I made this dish on a whim last week and didn’t have the olives or preserved lemons on hand. What I did was use lemon juice and black olives and the whole family went nuts over this. It was simple to make, went a long way when served with wild rice and the taste was fantastic! Next time I make it I will be sure to have the preserved lemons.

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