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Jennie June's Brown Fricassee Chicken

No recipe image available.The first American Jewish recipe I found for fricassee, a kind of ragout — usually made with chicken, browned lightly with onions in fat and then simmered in the drippings — came from a section on Jewish recipes in Jennie June's American Cookery Book of 1866. Jennie June Croley was one of the first American newspaper women and founder of the Sorosis Club. In her only cookbook she included a chapter on Jewish "receipts," which probably came to her from her Jewish friend, Genie H. Rosenfeld. "These are all original and reliable, -- the contribution of a superior Jewish housekeeper in New York," she wrote. Mrs. Rosenfeld was the wife of the dramatist, Sydney Rosenfeld, who was also the first editor of Puck. This nineteenth-century recipe cooks well today. The slow sautéing of the onions along with the nutmeg, mace, and thyme enhances the taste of the chicken. Serve it with rice. - J. Nathan.

Recipe Ingredients:

1 (4-pound) frying chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium onions, sliced in rings
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, peeled, or 1 (16-ounce) can stewing tomatoes with liquid
1 sprig fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Dash of mace
1/2 cup water

Cooking Directions:

  1. Brown the chicken in 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy sauté pan and set aside.
  2. Drain the pan, add the remaining oil, and simmer the onions very slowly, covered, for about 15 minutes or until soft. Remove the cover, add the garlic, and sauté until the onions are golden.
  3. Add the tomatoes and simmer a few minutes. Then add the chicken, the thyme, salt, pepper, allspice, mace, and water. Cover and cook for a half hour or until the chicken is tender, adding water if sauce is too thick.

Makes 6 servings (M).

Recipe Source: Jewish Cooking in America by Joan Nathan.