Welcome to Week 5 of the 2022 Great Colonial Cook Off. Well, actually it’s Week 6, but we’re running a bit behind with our recipe posting, so this is recipe number 5. Cook Off veterans will not be surprised. After all, it’s not the Cook Off without a little bit of chaos!
This week’s posting is not as much a recipe as directions for a class or dishes or a culinary technique. You see, fricassee (sometimes spelled frykecy or fricase) can be used both as a noun (a fricassee) and a verb (to fricassee). It’s origins are believed to be a smash up of two French words – frire (to fry) and casser (to break) – and was used to describe any dish consisting of small pieces of meat, fried in butter, and served in a sauce.
You can fricassee almost anything. Chicken and rabbit were especially popular in the 17th century, judging by the number of surviving recipes. But there are also recipes for fricassee of eggs, mushrooms, and pigs feet. Lori’s favourite cookbook, The Good Huswifes Jewell (1585), contains directions for Fricasies of a Lambes Head and Purtenance (a.k.a. organ meat). The Accomplish’t Cook by Robert May (1660) includes a recipe for A Rare Fricassee that includes sweet breads, oysters,“chicken peepers” (very young chicken) and pigeons …. head and all!
A Super Adaptable Dish
As you can see, the fricassee is a super adaptable recipe that you can easily make your own using whatever you have on hand. Which should come as a relief to anyone who spent last week trying to find parsnip!
BUT ….. since this is recipe number 5 in this year’s Cook Off, we figured you’d be ready for a bit of a challenge. To that end, we’re providing some basic fricassee directions, plus two sample 17th century recipes for inspiration.
Your challenge this week? To have fun! Re-create one of the sample recipes below OR create a brand new fricassee with your very own combination of ingredients and flavours.
17th Century Inspiration
Our first sample recipe is for A Fricasy of Chickens and comes from the Compleat Cook or Secrets of a 17th Century Housewife (1681) by Rebecca Price:
After you have drawn and washed your chickins, cut them in pieces, put them into a frying pan and fry them in Butter, then take them out of the pan and clean it, and put in some strong broth, some whitewine, some grated nutmeg, a little pepper and salt, a bunch of sweet herbs, a shallot or two, let these with two or three anchovies stew on a slow fire and boil up, then beat it up with butter and yolks of eggs till ’tis thike, and put your chickin in and toss them well together, dish it on sippets, and garnish with sliced Lemon and fryed parsley.
Our second example comes from Le Cuisinier François, by François de La Varenne (1651). It’s titled simply Sliced Fricasseed Eggs but don’t let that fool you. The flavour combinations are actually quite sophisticated.
Sliced fricasseed eggs
Hard-boil them. Shell them and slice them. Then fricassee them with good butter, parsley, chopped spring onion, pepper, berries or verjuice grapes [sour, young grapes). When they are well done and seasoned, put them in a dish with a dash of vinegar heated in a pan. If the sauce is too reduced, add a drop of bouillon; then serve with nutmeg. If you like, mix in capers, mushrooms, broken asparagus stalks that are – like the mushrooms -fricasseed beforehand because, otherwise, the cooking time is too short.
Remember, add a photo of your Fricassee of whatever in the comments of this week’s recipe post on the Colony of Avalon’s Facebook page for a chance to win weekly and grand prizes. Deadline for this week’s entries is 11:59 pm, Tuesday, August 23, 2022. Can’t wait to see your fricassee!