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Fricot is a traditional Acadian dish that is frequently part of Canadian cuisine, particularly in the eastern provinces such as Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. This type of stew is usually made with chicken pieces and cooked vegetables mixed with dumplings. This dish gets its unique flavor from the addition of summery savory, a spice derived from an herb that is native to the region and typically blooms between the months of July and September. Dried summery savory can be easily found in stores throughout Canada, and experienced Acadian cooks believe it is a requirement for an authentic fricot recipe.
Making fricot often involves dicing pieces of meat from a whole chicken; this important step both results in a richer flavor and allows a larger volume of the stew to be cooked and frozen for a later time. The average Canadian cook recommends a chicken weighing at least 3 pounds (about 1.4 kg) for most fricot recipes. Once the chopped chicken pieces are browned in a large cooking pot, they are typically steeped and simmered in cooking stock along with chopped carrots, onions, and potatoes. For fricot that contains lower amounts of fat, the chicken skin can be removed prior to cooking. The dumplings in fricot are usually added last after being mixed and molded from a separate recipe of flour, salt, baking powder, and water.
This Acadian recipe is generally considered a precursor to some types of stews associated with spicier Cajun cuisine such as gumbos and jambalaya. In addition to chicken, some fricot recipes call for beef stew meat, turkey, shrimp, or scallops. Home cooks wanting to add some more vegetable variety can also add chives, bell peppers, and even chopped turnips if preferred. Although some recipes recommend adding water for simmering the ingredients, many cooks choose chicken or vegetable stock instead. Those who like a somewhat thicker broth usually add small measurements of potato starch or corn starch.
As some Acadian cooks explore other influences, they often add different seasonings to the stew that complement the summery savory; examples can be garlic salt, black or red pepper, cumin, rosemary, and sometimes even Louisiana hot sauce. Different aspects of eastern Canadian culture are evident in this popular stew dish. In some geographic areas of the country, asking someone over for fricot in Canadian French is still equivalent to inviting him or her to a hearty dinner in general.
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