Jewish Chicken Foot Fricassée with Meatballs

Jewish Chicken Foot Fricassée with Meatballs
This updated version of a classic Jewish fricassée features homemade meatballs and various chicken parts, including wings, gizzards, necks, and feet, all in a spicy-sweet tomato sauceThomas Payne

According to chef Anthony Rose, of Toronto delicatessen Rose & Sons, this is “the first of the old and new fricassée recipes,” inspired by the traditional versions made by his grandmother, Esther Gottlieb, and his business partner Robert Wilder’s grandmother, Gella Rothstein. The braised chicken dish is made with the less popular bits of the chicken—wings, necks, gizzards, and most notoriously, feet—cooked in a bright, sweet-and-sour tomato sauce, which tempers the funkiness of the offal and feet while breaking down the collagen in the talons into a silky glaze. Ask your butcher or local grocer for cleaned chicken feet, necks, and gizzards. They might also be available at Asian markets. You can also remove the nails from the feet with a sharp knife before cooking, if you choose.

What You Will Need

Jewish Chicken Foot Fricassée with Meatballs
This updated version of a classic Jewish fricassée features homemade meatballs and various chicken parts, including wings, gizzards, necks, and feet, all in a spicy-sweet tomato sauce
Yield:

For the meatballs:

  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (6 oz.), finely diced
  • 12 lb. ground chicken
  • 12 lb. ground lean beef
  • 12 cup matzo meal
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped marjoram
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the fricassée:

  • 1 lb. chicken wings
  • 12 lb. chicken gizzards
  • 12 lb. chicken necks
  • 12 lb. cleaned chicken feet
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion (10 oz.), finely diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 Tbsp.)
  • 2 cups (12 oz.) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 12 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 14 cup sugar
  • Schmaltz, for drizzling (optional)
  • Chopped scallions and fresh dill, for topping
  • Steamed white rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  2. Make the meatballs: In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, 3–4 minutes. Set aside at room temperature until cool enough to handle. In a large bowl, add the chicken, beef, matzo meal, egg, marjoram, and sautéed onions. Season with salt and pepper, and use your hands to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  3. When you are ready to cook the meatballs, remove the mixture from the refrigerator. Form the mixture into 15 golf-ball-sized balls, about 1½ ounces each. Transfer the meatballs to a large baking sheet and set aside.
  4. Make the fricassée: Generously season the chicken wings, gizzards, necks, and feet with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  5. Set a wide casserole or baking dish by the stove. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add half of the oil. When the oil is hot, sear the wings until crispy and browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the wings to the casserole. Sear the gizzards until crispy and browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the gizzards to the casserole. Sear the necks until crispy and browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the necks to the casserole. Sear the feet until crispy and browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the feet to the casserole. Sear the meatballs on all sides until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the casserole.
  6. Wipe out the skillet, add the remaining oil, and return to medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the onions are softened and translucent, 7–8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking just until they have begun to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika and chili powder and continue cooking until the spices are very fragrant, 3 minutes more. Stir in the stock, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, then pour the tomato mixture into the casserole. Stir gently to coat the meat with the sauce without breaking up the meatballs.
  7. Cover the casserole with a lid or aluminum foil, transfer to the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the juices are reduced and slightly glossy, but there is still a bit of juiciness in bottom of the dish, 30–45 minutes more. (The size and shape of your dish will affect how quickly this happens.)
  8. Remove the casserole from the oven and let cool slightly to allow the juices to thicken. Drizzle with schmaltz (if using), top with scallions and dill, and serve over rice.