Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chicken Fricassee with Shiitake Mushrooms and a salute to Chef Jason Weiner of Almond Restaurants and Outstanding in the Field.

Jane, Jason and John 
About a month ago, my friends, Jane Maguire and John Quigley of Long Island Mushroom Inc., invited me to attend a special event.  It was a dinner held at the EECO Farm in Easthampton.  It was hosted by a group called “Outstanding in the Field”, a quirky roving restaurant that travels all over North America staging dinners that bring together local farmers and foodies in outdoor pop-up settings.  Local food purveyors supply the raw ingredients.  Jane and John were, of course, responsible for the presence of their glorious mushrooms.  And Jason Weiner, who is the Chef and Co-Owner of Almond Restaurants—one in Bridgehampton and one in New York—did all the cooking. 
Photo by Kelli Delaney Kot 
Outstanding in the Field arrives in a big, old red bus stocked with practically everything needed to create these farm feasts—with the exception of the food and the plates.  The diners bring the latter which makes for a wonderfully eclectic table setting.  Their crew sets up enormous long tables right next to the source: in this case at the East End Community Organic Farm.  The town of Easthampton owns the 42 acre site and then leases space to local organic farmers who share equipment and land. 
Photo by Kelli Delaney Kot 
The Outstanding in the Field crew are as earnest and enthusiastic as our farmers and they put on a wonderful party.  There were fully 6 courses which Chef Weiner and his restaurant crew were somehow able to serve to 115 participants.  I had never heard of this particular event but I sat next to two Pennsylvania couples who had planned a week’s vacation just to be there. They were 'camp followers' who had been to other OITF dinners, one on a ranch, another on a mountaintop and one right on a beach.  To see where OITF will set up tables next, go to
The whole idea is to have people connect to the land and the people who grow the food.  There’s a farm tour, which was conducted by one of the EECO farmers.  The fisherman who provided the line-caught the tuna, black back flounder and red hake told us about his work and took questions.  After passed hors d’oevres, everyone sat down to dinner with generous pourings of wine from two local vineyards: Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton and the North Fork's Paumanok Vineyard. 
Photo by Kelli Delaney Kot 
Chef Weiner’s menu was heavy on our local catches paired with our beautiful produce.  But the grand finale was a terrific Chicken Fricassee which featured Jane and John’s fresh mushrooms, hydroponically grown and picked that morning at their mushroom farm.  As I sat there in the setting sun, I couldn’t think of a nicer way to spend an evening.  It was the sixth time OITF had worked with Jason and I could hardly wait for next year.  While this isn’t his recipe, it’s the one I made to salute him.  It’s no 30 minute meal.  But it’s a wonderful dinner party dish. The browned and braised chicken thighs sit atop the shiitake and onion mixture.  A flavorful broth accompanies them and the coup de grace is a lovely nutmeg scented light cream sauce. Just as Chef Weiner did, I paired it with some fresh local green beans.  And I used rice to sop up all the goodness of the sauce.  I served it at my final dinner party of the season, just before leaving for the city.  And I had enough left over to share with Andrew when I got home. Here’s the recipe. 
Recipe for Chicken Fricassee with Shiitake Mushrooms:

For the Chicken:
Olive Oil
2 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Parsley
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon Peppercorns
3 pounds Chicken Thighs (bone-in; skin on)
Salt and Pepper 
4 tablespoons Butter 
2 Carrots (finely diced) 
1 Onion (finely diced)
3 Garlic cloves (sliced thinly) 
2 Celery Ribs (finely diced)
3 tablespoons Flour
1 cup Dry White Wine
6 cups Chicken Stock
1 Lemon (zest and juice) 
For the Onions and Mushrooms: 
5 tablespoons Butter
5 White Onions (sliced thinly)
1 pound Cremini (or Button or Shiitake) Mushrooms (sliced 1/4-inch thick)
Salt and Pepper 
1/2 cup White Wine

For the Sauce:
2 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 cup Parsley (chopped)

For the Chicken: 
In a large heavy bottomed pan placed over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Tie the herbs and peppercorns in cheesecloth. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, sear the chicken until golden brown, about 8 minutes for each batch.

Remove the chicken and add the butter. Once melted, add the carrots, onions, garlic and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, or until slightly softened. Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir to combine with the butter. Cook for a minute before adding the wine.

Cook the wine down by half and then add the chicken stock. Drop in the herb bundle and add the chicken back to the pot. Cover and simmer gently for about 35 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Add the egg sauce mixture to the chicken pot and then bring the chicken back up to a simmer. This will thicken the sauce into something creamy and rich. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Remove the herb bundle and discard.

For the Onions and Mushrooms: Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted and foamy, toss in the onions and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Let cook for about 7 to 8 minutes, or until they have achieved a golden color. Deglaze with the wine and reduce by half, about 2 to 3 minutes.

For the Sauce: Whisk together the egg yolks and cream.  Add some freshly grated nutmeg. Ladle slowly some liquid from the braised chicken into the egg mixture, tempering the eggs so they don't scramble. Whisk in one more large ladle full, stirring constantly.

Add the egg mixture back to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes at a gentle simmer. 

Plate a spoonful of the onion and mushrooms in the center of each individual bowl. Ladle in the chicken fricassee, top with sauce, and garnish with the parsley and serve.


  1. How cool that you got to attend this event! The chicken fricassee looks delicious. I remember making it years ago and disliking it but this recipe has encouraged me to try it again.
    Welcome home!

    1. Thanks so much Lauren. The dish is delicious. Jason is a genius and it's well worth giving Chicken Fricassee another shot. Great to be home! And so glad your trip was such a success. XOXO M

  2. Hi Monte,

    I just had to stop and tell you how much I enjoyed this post. As a former Long Islander, who now lives in Pennsylvania, the proclaimed Mushroom Capital of the World, I'm delighted to learn about the efforts of "Outstanding in the Field." An online friend of mine, T.W. has a wonderful blog entitled Culinary Types. He also writes for Edible Long Island. I have a feeling you two should "meet." Here is the linkto his blog if you want to take a peek.

    As for that scrumptious looking Chicken Fricassée of yours, oh my heavens. Such a classic dish brought to delicious Shiitake elevation. Thank you so much for sharing. I'll be pinning this link for sure. Louise

    1. Dear Louise, How very thoughtful of you to write. We are all beholden to Kennett Square which is where Long Island Mushrooms get their start in life. I will be delighted to read your friend T. R.'s blog. And this recipe is really a revelation. Please come back to as often as you'd like. All best and again thanks for your kind words.