Fricassée of Chicken

This recipe, reduced to reasonable proportions, comes from a Reading manuscript dated 1765. It is extremely good and quite unlike other fricassées of chicken. In the garnish, I have replaced the original oysters with button mushrooms for economy, but you can use fresh or tinned oysters if you wish.


  • 2 chickens, 2½ to 3 lb (1 to 1½ kg) each
  • 2 onions, halved
  • 2 carrots, halved
  • Bouquet garni
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • sticks (150 g) butter
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme and marjoram mixed
  • 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • ½ bottle dry white wine
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt and pepper

The Forcemeat Balls

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) butter
  • ¾ cup (90 g) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 egg yolk

The Garnish

  • 9 slices of bread, cut across into triangles and lightly fried
  • ½ lb (240 g) button mushrooms, lightly sautéed
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 slices


Cut the meat off the chickens 2 hours before you want to start cooking the dish. Put the chicken meat in the refrigerator while you make the stock. Put the chicken bones, carcasses and skin into a large saucepan with 5 cups (1.2 litres) of water, the onions, carrots and bouquet garni and bring to the boil. Simmer, partly covered, for hours, by which time the stock should have reduced-to about 4 cups (9 dl). Strain the stock and put it to cool for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the top.

Lightly rub the chicken pieces with 3 tablespoons of the flour into which you have mixed the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Fry the chicken pieces in f stick (90 g) of the butter for 3 minutes, turning them all the time, using tongs.

Put the chicken pieces in a saucepan with the shallots, thyme and marjoram and chopped anchovies. Mix the wine and stock and pour it over the chicken. Stew gently for 45 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking prepare the forcemeat balls. Soften the onion in the butter. Mix the onion with all the remaining ingredients. Shape the mixture into 12 balls and lightly fry them in the pan in which the onions were softened. Then prepare the garnish.

When the chicken is ready, transfer the pieces to a fairly flat ovenproof serving dish, using a perforated spoon, and keep hot. Strain the stock into a bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the saucepan and stir in the remaining flour. Gradually pour the stock on to this roux, stirring all the time so that the sauce is smooth. Boil for 3 minutes then remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool while you beat the egg yolks. Stir the egg yolks into the sauce and beat with a spoon for 1 minute, holding the pan above the heat and not resting it on the stove. Do not allow the sauce to boil or it will curdle. The sauce should have the consistency and almost the colour of a thin custard; pour it over the chicken and place the croûtons, mushrooms and lemon slices all around. Serve immediately.