Thomas Jefferson's Chicken Fricassee


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Serves 4

Thomas Jefferson once said, "I lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that as a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principal meal."  Jefferson was not a vegetarian though he ate little meat, in-fact he ate very few animal products at all.  When he did, this chicken dish was one of his favorites.  Chicken Fricassee is an old fashion dish which was originally designed to render an old and venerable cock or hen edible.  With today’s tender chickens, (it’s almost impossible to find a stewing hen these days) the method is not necessary, but non the less, tasty.  Today the cooking time is a fraction of what it would have been in Jefferson’s day.

1 chicken, cut into serving pieces

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry powdered yellow mustard
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Salt to taste

About 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 onion, diced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups fresh small mushrooms

2 chicken stock or 1, 14.5-ounce can of broth  
2/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup inexpensive cream Sherry

1 cup cream or half and half
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Season to taste with salt and coarse ground black pepper

Wash and dry the chicken pieces.   Combine the next nine ingredients and use to lightly coat the chicken pieces.  Shake off any excess seasoned flour.  Heat the butter or olive oil in a heavy pot.  A Dutch oven is perfect.  Working with as many pieces of chicken as will fit comfortable in the bottom of the pot at a time, brown for about two to three minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Set the chicken aside. 

Add a bit more butter or olive oil if necessary and gently sauté the onion and garlic until pinkish and translucent but not yet beginning to brown.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they are hot through, about two minutes.  Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan as you work. 

Return the chicken to the pot and and add the chicken stock, wine and Sherry. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Continue to cook until the chicken is very tender, about an hour.  Remove the lid, increase the heat to a rapid simmer and slowly pour in the cream.  Simmer uncovered, for another fifteen to twenty minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.  Stir in the parsley and adjust the seasonings.  Cook for about another five minutes.  Serve hot over steamed rice or cooked pasta garnished with sprigs of fresh parsley.  Glazed Acorn Squash would be an excellent side dish. 



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        Copyright © 2008 - Geraldine Duncann

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