‘‘If there was one dish that could be called typically Acadian, it would certainly be Fricot’’ writes Marielle Cormier-Boudreau and Melvin Gallant in their A Taste of Acadie cookbook, in which we find an entire chapter devoted strictly to fricot.
Fricot is a hearty stew containing potatoes, dumplings and meat, fish or seafood. It is an old traditional recipe, yet remains the most popular dish in Acadian gastronomy to this day. In some areas of New Brunswick, fricot may also be referred to as ‘‘bouillon’’. Acadieman, the beloved first Acadian superhero, even gets into a heated argument over the dish’s name with a rebel from the north of the province in the Acadieman Vs. La Guerre Civile episode.
Because of its filling ingredients, fricot is considered a stand-alone meal typically served as a main course, or first course in smaller portions. It is served in bowls and eaten with a spoon. The comfort food is accompanied with bread, or pain de pays (home-made bread), and crackers. One can find fricot in many restaurants across New Brunswick.
The word fricot first appeared in the French language during the 18th century where it originally meant ‘‘a feast’’. Today, the French dictionary Larousse defines fricot as: ‘‘meat and vegetables mixed and coarsely cooked’’ in its first sense, and then simply as ‘‘food, meal’’ in its second sense. In Acadie, the word fricot was synonymous for a good meal and also used as a call for dinner: ‘‘Au fricot!’’
Not surprisingly, the most popular variation of the dish is made with chicken. Many Chicken Fricot recipes have already found their way online through French and English language websites alike. Most of them included summer savoury, which is important as it makes the dish authentically Acadian: Summer savoury is considered the one and only Acadian herb.
This is my Mémére’s (Grandma) Acadian Chicken Fricot recipe. Enjoy with fresh Pain de Pays (home-made bread) and/or crackers.
- ½ tablespoon (8 ml) of butter
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 7 cups (1750 ml) of chicken broth
- 2 Russet potatoes (1 lb total / 0.5 kg total), peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of dried summer savoury
- salt, to taste
- 1 cup (250 ml) of unbleached all-purpose flour
- In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in the melted butter over medium-high heat until it is translucent.
- Add chicken, brown for about 10 minutes.
- Add chicken broth, potatoes, savoury, salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until potatoes are tender.
- In another bowl, mix flour, 1 cup (250 ml) of broth from the fricot and salt to taste to make the dumplings. Form bite-sized balls (I use a spoon and a knife) and add them to the fricot. Simmer for a couple of minutes. Adjust seasoning and enjoy!