Two Septembers ago I entered and came in third in an apple pie contest at Old Sturbridge Village (the next year I won the contest!) – and as part of my prize I received a copy of the Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook. Although I had it for almost 2 years, I still hadn’t made anything from this book, so this week I decided to change that.
This book is a different sort of historical cookbook. Each recipe typically has 3 separate recipes: the original recipe from the 1800’s from The American Frugal Housewife, a modern cooking method, and also a hearthside method. The recipes from Frugal Housewife are the types of recipes that are prepared at Old Sturbridge Village.
Chicken Fricassee, White
Makes 4 servings
3 lb whole chicken, or parts (I just used chicken breasts)
Large onion (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups hot water or broth (I used chicken broth)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon mace
1 tablespoon sage or marjoram
2 egg yolks
¼ cup cream (I used light cream)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Juice of ½ a lemon
Original Directions: (from The American Frugal Housewife, 1832)
“The chickens are cut to pieces, and covered with warm water, to draw out the blood. Then put into a stew-pan, with three quarters of a pint of water, or veal broth, salt, pepper, flour, butter, mace, sweet herbs pounded and sifted; boil in half an hour. If it is too fat, skim it a little. Just before it is done, mix the yolk of two eggs with a gill of cream, grate in a little nutmeg, stir it up till it is thick and smooth, squeeze in half a lemon. If you like onions, stew some slices with the other ingredients.”
1) Cut chicken into small pieces (soak in warm water only if freshly killed). If desired, cut onion into thin slices.
2) In a large skillet or flame-proof casserole, melt butter and add flour to make a paste. Stir in hot water or broth, and continue stirring until it thickens. Add chicken, onion if desired, salt, pepper, mace, and sage or marjoram. Cook for 30-45 minutes in all. Before serving, skim fat if necessary.
3) Just before serving, beat egg yolks, and add cream and nutmeg. Pour slowly into chicken and sauce. Squeeze lemon over all and heat through, but do not boil.
I can’t even tell you how good this dish was. We had it over white rice, but it would also have been very good over a small pasta, like orzo. The spice combination was very different than what I usually have on chicken. My fiancé was the one who made this dish and he said it was very easy to prepare – the most difficult part was making the rue, which isn’t terribly difficult. It was nice to have something that tasted like it was harder to make on a week night.
I thought the part from the traditional recipe about covering the chicken in warm water to draw out the blood was an interesting touch!
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Any post remotely related to cooking can participate.
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