Recipe: Chicken Fricassee with Crayfish

by Alice White Walker
a plate of Chicken Fricasse with crayfish

Who better to turn to than Alain Ducasse for a lesson in classic French bistro food? His book, Classic French Comfort Food, is an homage to three Parisian bistros he manages – Allard, Aux Lyonnais and Benoît. Each one an institution in its own right, they have been serving up authentic dishes to Parisians and visitors for over a century.


Halfway between a sauté and a stew, chicken fricassée is grand-mère‘s classic. In this decadent twist, Ducasse uses crayfish to make a delicious bouillon and meaty complement to tender chicken.

Read on to learn how to cook this staple of French fare.

a plate of Chicken Fricasse with crayfish

Chicken Fricassee with Crayfish

Alice White Walker Halfway between a sauté and a stew, chicken fricassée is "grand-mère"'s classic. Learn how to make this French staple with the master, Alain Ducasse... Recipes Recipe: Chicken Fricassee with Crayfish European Print This
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 3.5/5
( 2 voted )


  • 1 (1.8kg – 4 pound) bresse chicken
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 40 g / 1.41 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter
  • 2 cloves pink garlic
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 30 freshwater crayfish
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves pink garlic
  • 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 15 g – 0.53 ounce (1 tablespoon) Butter
  • 1 dried fennel stick
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 50ml – 3 1/2 tablespoons cognac
  • Heads of the crayfish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1k g – 2pounds 4 ounces chicken carcasses
  • 15 g – 0.53 ounce (1 tablespoon) butter
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • Kosher (coarse) salt
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 30ml – 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 30ml – 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 500ml – 2 cups crayfish stock
  • 250ml – 1 cup chicken "jus"
  • 1 sprig of basil
  • 1 tablespoon soft (semi) whipped cream
  • Several sprigs of chervil



Dress the chicken. Cut off the legs and divide them into drum-sticks and thighs. Debone the thighs, then season the drumsticks and thighs with salt and pepper. Put 1 tablespoon olive oil into a sauté pan and brown the drumsticks and thighs on all sides.

Add half the butter, 1 garlic clove, and 1 sprig of thyme. Baste regularly and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack. Preheat the oven to 180°C – 350°F (gas mark 4). Brown the chicken rib cage with breasts in a Dutch oven (cast-iron casserole) with the remaining olive oil, then add the remaining butter, garlic clove, and thyme. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, basting often.

Rinse the crayfish in cold water. Devein them. Separate the heads and claws from the tails and place in two different strainers (sieves) to drain. Cut the unpeeled shallot into 3mm – 1/8 inch-thick disks. Crush the garlic cloves, and crush the parsley sprig with your hands. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven and sear the crayfish tails until they turn very red. Lower the heat and add the shallot, garlic, parsley, butter, fennel stick, bouquet garni, and peppercorns. Deglaze with the cognac and cover the pan with a damp cloth. Rest for a few minutes at room temperature. Peel the still-warm tails and set aside.

Chop up the crayfish heads. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and brown the chicken breasts over high heat. When they are well browned, add the butter and crayfish heads, and brown everything. Cut up and set aside the tomatoes. Peel and slice the shallots and add to the Dutch oven with the peppercorns, salt, and bouquet garni, then add the tomato paste. Deglaze with the wine and cognac, and reduce completely. Add the tomato pieces, cover with the stock, and reduce by one-third. Add the chicken jus and simmer for 1 hour. Add the basil. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Pour the contents of the pan into a strainer and press* well to extract as much liquid as possible. Filter the liquid through a conical strainer into a saucepan and return to the heat, if necessary, thicken to the desired consistency.

Reheat the chicken and halve the thighs. Remove the breasts from the rib cage and cut them into four pieces. Sear the crayfish tails in a sauté pan. Stir the soft whipped cream into the sauce. Arrange the chicken pieces on plates with the crayfish, then add sauce and some chervil.

Wine suggestion: a white Jura wine, such as Arbois Savagnin.


the cover of Alain Duccasse's book 'Bistro"Bistro: Classic French Comfort Food

Written by Alain Ducasse
Published by Rizzoli
Photography by Pierre Monetta
$ 35.00


Find more Ducasse recipes in the May/June 2020 edition of My French Country Home.



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