This stew, known as Chicken Chasseur, is a French classic that originated from hunters who would bring their bounty of small animals and wild mushrooms home. This traditional recipe braises bone-in chicken pieces and a ton of mushrooms in a tomato sauce with white wine, fresh herbs, and a generous dollop of butter towards the end to enhance the flavor.
Prepare yourself for this large, rustic meal that embodies the tastes of fall!
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Chicken Chasseur, and its variations.
Every area and family has its unique variation of Chicken Chasseur, just like most French country cookery. The rationale is that the majority of rustic French recipes originated from the practice of maximizing the amount of foodstuffs and meats that were accessible at a certain location and during a specific season. The same is true in Italy, where there are countless variants of the famous dish “Chicken Cacciatore.”
This particular recipe is perhaps the most “classic” or well-known as it uses a whole chicken and a rich “Chasseur” sauce comprised of tomatoes, white wine, mushrooms, cognac, and tarragon.
There are several more versions of this dish, such as using different small game meats like rabbit, duck, pheasant, or quail; substituting red wine for white wine; omitting tomatoes; or incorporating different herbs and garnishes according on the season and region, such olives, etc.
Nevertheless, the real highlights of this meal are the seasonal mushrooms and a tiny game meat that are always added.
Notes about the mushrooms.
The greatest time to make chicken croque madame is in the fall, when mushrooms are in season. Approximately one pound (450g) of mushrooms is required for this recipe; however, it is quite flexible, so feel free to use slightly more or less.
If you’d like, you can use a combination of several types of mushrooms or just one. Select plump, fresh mushrooms that will soften in the sauce during cooking, such as chanterelles, portobello, oysters, or cremini.
I used a combination of Portobello and Cremini for the final dish photo, and it came out beautifully.
Notes about the chicken.
A entire chicken, sliced into pieces, is what’s used in a Chicken Chasseur dish.
I really suggest using bone-in chunks since they provide a ton of flavor to this recipe. To chop the chicken into eight pieces, ask your butcher to cut it into two drumsticks, two thighs, two wings, and two breasts. Alternatively, you may accomplish it on your own (much simpler than you may imagine!); just use this video as a reference.
I advise you to get the highest caliber bird available. The best kind is a free-range, locally reared one.
To get the chicken pieces closer to room temperature, I advise removing them from the refrigerator at least two hours before cooking. Dry off the chicken completely to ensure an extra-crisp skin for cooking.
Which white wine to choose for a Chicken Chasseur
I suggest choosing a crisp and dry white wine for this dish. Any white wine that isn’t sweet is considered “dry.” A wine with a high acidity level is referred to as a “crisp” white.
Among my suggestions are:
- I always use Sauvignon Blanc as my go-to white wine when cooking. It offers a strong acidity.
- Pinot Grigio is a neutral white wine that is highly adaptable and simple to cook with.
- Chardonnay without oak aging: this wine has a hint more body than the previous two.
- Dry Marsala: it produces a wonderful caramelization and adds delightful nutty overtones.
In any event, steer clear of using sweet white wines (such as Sauternes or Riesling), since they will cause the meal to finish too sweet or caramelized. Additionally, steer clear of rich, full-bodied, and/or oaky white wines (such as Oaked Chardonnay), since they might develop harsh undertones when cooked.
Finally, it will truly make a difference if you choose a bottle that is still drinkable rather than one that is “cheap.” Trust me on this. Put away the “cooking wines” you buy at the supermarket!
Notes about the tomatoes
Tomatoes probably won’t be in season if you prepare this Chicken Chasseur dish “in-season,” which is during October’s mushroom season. Therefore, it’s probably preferable to use a can of peeled tomatoes to make the sauce for this dish.
Prior to adding the tomatoes to the sauce, make sure you smash them. You may even squish them between your fingers or severely chop them on a chopping board.
More cooking notes:
- This recipe for Chicken Chasseur calls for a large skillet or pan (about 3-3.5qt) that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven. This one is 3.5 qt. in size.
- Since each piece of chicken will have a different internal temperature (plump breasts will take longer to cook through than legs), I advise using a food thermometer to check each one. The chicken will be fully cooked when its internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). If you don’t have a food thermometer, use a sharp knife to cut through the chicken meat to ensure it’s cooked all the way through. There should be some fluid and white meat. Proceed with cooking it in the oven if it becomes pink.
- I really like to use a mixture of parsley and tarragon for fresh herbs. While tarragon brightens the meal with its crisp, licorice-like undertones, parsley adds warm, earthy aromas.
- Butter is added last to improve the flavor of the sauce. When the butter is just melted or combined, it’s critical to stop mixing to prevent the butter from “breaking” into the sauce.
You may also like:
- Chicken Breasts in Creamy Mushroom Sauce
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Grilled Bruschetta Chicken
- Easy Grilled Chicken Salad
1 whole chicken (4 pounds) 1.7kg, cut into 8 pieces (see cooking notes)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp (8g) flour
1 tbsp (14g) butter, unsalted
2 shallots or 1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lb/450g mushrooms, sliced – mix
1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine
2 tbsp (30ml) cognac
1 ½ cups (375ml) chicken stock
½ cup (120g) peeled tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh parlsey, chopped
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp (28g) butter, unsalted
- Two hours before cooking, take your chicken pieces out of the fridge. Rinse them under cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towel. Season chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with flour until evenly coated. Set aside and let rest to near room temperature.
- Heat up a large oven-safe skillet (or pan) over medium-heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter sizzles, place the chicken pieces, skin-side down, in the skillet. Cook for about 8-9 minutes (uncovered) until the chicken skin is golden to golden brown. Flip the chicken pieces and cook for 6-7 more minutes. Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and bake in pre-heated oven until cooked through, for about 12 to 15 minutes. If using a food thermometer, it should register 165°F (74°C). When chicken pieces are cooked through, set aside.
- Meanwhile, remove all but 2 tablespoons of the chicken drippings in the pan. Lower the heat to medium and add the sliced mushrooms. Sauté until soft and brown. Add the sliced shallots (or onion), garlic and cook for 2 more minutes
- Add the white wine, cognac and cook until almost completely reduced. Add the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes and stir. Bring the sauce to a slow simmer and cook until the sauce thickens significantly (it should coat the back of a spoon). Lower the heat to medium-low, and add the chopped herbs.
- Finally, stir in the butter and stop mixing when just melted/incorporated. Taste and season if needed, with salt and pepper.
- Nestle the chicken in the sauce, arrange mushrooms around pieces, and cook for 2 more minutes to re-heat chicken if needed.