Tuesday, February 28, 2017

White Chicken Fricassee

Roosters from
Tacuinum Sanitaris: An Early Renaissance Guide to Health

Recipe Provenance
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

The Recipe: Fricasee
a chicken, or rabbit cut in pieces, well washed from the blood, put in a stew pan with as much water as will cover it; add to it a bunch of sweet herbs, some white pepper & onion stew it ‘till the meat is done, then beat the yelks of six eggs (three will do for one chicken) a glafs of white wine, a nutmeg grated, a little chopped parsley, a piece of butter, 4 spoonfuls of cream, beat all these together, put in the stew pan, stir it ‘till it is well mixed, do not put the wine in ‘till just before you dish it. Mrs. Carroll’s

About Fricassee (or Fricasee)
Fricassee is a cooking style that denotes meat, fish/seafood or vegetables that are either fried in a pan or slow-cooked in a broth (braised) and then covered with a sauce. Fricassees were either white (with milk or cream) or brown (no dairy) but they frequently have butter, egg yolks, wine, lemon, and fresh herbs.

In the nineteenth-century, American recipes for fricassee frequently feature chicken or rabbit. However, there were many other foods that could take center stage in a fricassee. Here are some examples: lamb, venison, mutton, sweetbreads, tripe, giblets, pigs' feet & ears, veal, goose, eggs, salmon, crabs, lobster, oysters, peas, tomatoes, mushrooms, okra & corn, and parsnips.

Various 19th Century Fricassee Recipes:

Henderson, Mary N.F. Practical Dinner Giving (NY, 1877)

Fanny L. Gillette White House Cook Book (Chicago, 1887)

Ann Allen Housekeepers Assistant (Boston, 1845)

Elizabeth E. Lea Domestic Cookery (Baltimore 1869)

Modern Recipe Adaptation: White Chicken Friccasee

  • 1 Chicken, Cut into Pieces
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • Bundle of Sweet Herbs (Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Bay, and Marjoram)
  • 1 Teaspoon White Pepper 
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • Yolks of 6 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine
  • Handful Freshly Chopped Parsley
  1. In a large enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven place the chicken pieces, onions, herbs, pepper, and salt. Cover the contents with cold water. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow this to cook slowly for about one hour. Remove the scum that rises to the top.
  2. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the Dutch oven and set is aside.
  3. Strain the cooking broth through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Remove excess fat that settles on top of the broth. Return about 4 cups of the strained liquid to the Dutch oven. Add the butter and allow it to melt in the broth.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream, and nutmeg.
  5. Temper the Eggs: Ladle about one cup of the hot mixture in small increments into the eggs. Whisk while adding the hot liquid to the eggs. Then pour the egg mixture into the Dutch oven. Cook on low for just a few minutes to allow the eggs to cook, but do not cook them on high heat or they will scramble and you do not want that!
  6. Add the chicken back into the Dutch oven. Then add the wine and heat through on very low for just a few minutes.
  7. Just before service, sprinkle on the parsley as a garnish. Season with more salt and pepper, as desired.
  8. Serve with wilted greens and rice or noodles.

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