Captain Wentworth … was engaged with the Crofts to dine at Uppercross, by the end of another week.
Though England had been described as a nation of beefeaters, by Jane Austen’s era times were changing. French cooking had become fashionable and the heavy foods of previous generations were being set aside in favor of light and pretty dishes, such as this fricassee, which like many things, sounds lovely and complicated, but is really a simple dish of meat cut into pieces and stewed in gravy. Regardless of the origins, the Mary Musgrove, with her artificial
importance and modern mind and manners, would no doubt have approved.
To Make a White Fricasey
Take two chickens, and cut them in small pieces, put them in warm water to draw out the blood, then put them into some good veal broth, if no veal broth, a little boiling water, and stew them gently with a bundle of sweet herbs, and a blade of mace, till they are tender; then take out the sweet herbs, add a little flour and butter boiled together, to thicken it a little, then add half a pint of cream, and the yolk of an egg beat very fine; some pickled mushrooms: the best way is to put some fresh mushrooms in at first; if no fresh then pickled: keep stirring it till it boils up, then add the juice of half a lemon, stir it well to keep it from curdling, then put it in your dish, Garnish with lemon.–Hannah Glasse
• 1 kg / 2 lbs boneless Chicken Breast
• 250 ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup Veal Stock or Beef broth
• 1 bunch fresh or 2 tbsp dried Fines Herbs (parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil)
• ½ tsp Mace
• 2 tbsp Butter
• 2 tbsp Flour
• 250 ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup Cream
• 1 Egg Yolk
• 454 g / 8 oz / 1 cup Button Mushrooms, washed and sliced
• 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
Cut your chicken into pieces and place them in a large sauce pan with the broth, the herbs and mace. Boil over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. While your chicken is stewing, in another saucepan, melt your butter and add the flour to it, stirring well, to create a roux. Once the chicken has cooked, remove the herbs (if using fresh) and add the roux to your broth to thicken it.
Warm your cream with the egg yolk over a low heat, stirring well to combine the two.
Add this mixture to your chicken and broth, along with the mushrooms and lemon juice. Continue cooking over a medium heat, stirring well for an additional five minutes.
Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.
Excerpted from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, by Laura Boyle.