Clockwise from top: Fricassée close-up, Fricassée served with a green salad and chardonnay, vegetables cooking, parsley from my garden
Thomas Coryate brought the fork from Italy to England in 1608. At first, they were rejected as "effeminate" and "unnecessary," but the wealthy soon adopted them as a status symbol, buying forks made with expensive materials to impress their guests.* The fricassée, a French invention that became popular in England, was tailor-made for these newly fashionable forks. Neither knives nor spoons are required, meaning that cooking fricassées encouraged using forks and vice versa.**
Click on each photo for more information.
Here's my adaptation of Hannah Woolley's "fricasie of Chickens" from The Cook's Guide, 1664:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 carrots, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups boiling chicken stock
2/3 cup dry (French) vermouth
2 sprigs parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried (or 1 tablespoon fresh) thyme
3 bay leaves
1 lb shredded cooked chicken
1 (8 oz) can oysters, drained and rinsed
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream
grated zest from 1/2 orange
1 cup dried egg noodles per person, cooked according to package directions
In a large (13" skillet), melt the butter over medium heat. When the foam starts to subside, add the onion, celery and carrot then season with salt and cook until the onions are softened and translucent, 10 to 15 minutes, being careful to not let the vegetables brown.
Season vegetables with pepper then stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for four minutes. Pour over the chicken stock and vermouth and add the herbs, chicken and oysters. Bring mixture to a simmer then cook, covered, at a slow simmer for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the enrichment by placing the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisking the cream into them.
At the end of 25 minutes, turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil off the liquid until only a small amount remains and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Meanwhile, temper the enrichment by adding the boiling cooking liquid to it, about a tablespoonful at a time, until about a cup has been added. Whisk well after each addition. When the cooking liquid has been sufficiently reduced, remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the egg yolk/cream mixture. Return pan to the heat and add the orange zest and about a pinch of nutmeg. Stir to combine and divide the fricassée over cooked egg noodles.
Fricassée (minus egg noodles) can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen. To reheat, simmer in a saucepan until warmed through.
Adapted from "To make a fricasie of Chickens, or any meat else" in Hannah Woolley, The Cook's Guide (London: Peter Dring, 1664), 76 and "Fricassée de poulet à l'ancienne" in Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961), 258-261.
Download printable copy
Here are this week's Baroque pieces. Be sure to check out last week's music if you missed it!
Monteverdi- "Luci serene e chiare"
Cavalieri- "Dalle più alte sfere" (actually found this one a bit annoying)
Cavalieri- "Godi turba mortal"
Caccini- "Sfogava con le stelle"
*"Forks" in California Academy of Sciences, The History of Eating Utensils (link).
**"Mad Master Cooks" in Kate Colquhoun, Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking (New York: Bloomsbury, 2007), 134.
To learn more about the fork, check out this article at Design*Sponge.
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