A Taste of Early America: To Fricasey Chickens

The Original Recipe

Skin them and cut them in small Pieces, wash them in warm Water, and then dry them very clean with a Cloth, season them with Pepper and Salt, and then put them into a Stew Pan with a little fair Water, and a good Piece of Butter, a little Lemon Pickle, or half a Lemon, a Glass of White Wine, one Anchovy, a little Mace and Nutmeg, an Onion stuck with Cloves, a Bunch of Lemon Thyme and sweet Marjoram, let them stew together ’till you Chickens are tender, and then lay them on your dish, thicken the Gravy with Flour and Butter, strain it, then beat the Yolks of three Eggs a little, and mix them with a large Tea Cupful of rich Cream, and put it in your Gravy, and shake it over the Fire, but do not let it boil, and pour it over your Chickens.

From The Experienced English Housekeeper (1769) by Elizabeth Raffald

Modern-Day Recipe


  • 5 pounds of bone-in chicken breast and thighs, skinned
  • 2-3 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons of dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 3 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of anchovy paste
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 large egg yolks, beaten until thick and lemon-colored
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons of butter, softened


Cut the chicken into small pieces, season with salt and pepper, and place them into a pan with the chicken broth, butter, spices, anchovy paste and white wine. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is tender, adding more broth if needed.

Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

To make the sauce, combine 3 tablespoons of butter with flour and mix in a little bit of hot broth to make a paste. Gradually add it back into the pan.

Mix in the egg yolks and cream them together, then add to the pan. Don’t let it boil.

Place the chicken back in the pan to slightly reheat. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.