Chicken Fricassee: Abraham Lincoln, well known for his love of food and cooking, had a favorite chicken recipe for a beloved comfort classic skillet chicken dish. And, it’s easy to make at home.
This “Fricassed Chickens” recipe is adapted from the “Cookery Book” by Miss Eliza Leslie, published in 1845, that Mary Todd Lincoln owned.
Abraham Lincoln’s Chicken Fricassee
Biographies of Mary Todd Lincoln recount from her diaries and notes that President Lincoln was not eating well during the Civil War.
In an effort to awaken his appetite, she asked the White House chef if he had a recipe for “old-fashioned chicken fricassee.” He had a recipe and made it for the President. And the President… loved it.
What is Chicken Fricassee?
It’s the ultimate comfort food. A one-pot, seasoned chicken, cooked in a skillet, that’s simmered in a thickened milk or cream sauce.
Some historic recipes add a strip of lemon peel or mushrooms to the simmering sauce.
Historic Chicken Fricassee Recipes
Period cookbooks offer recipes for two kinds of chicken fricassee.
The chicken is first fried before cooking in the cream sauce.
A White Fricassee simmers seasoned chicken in a cream sauce without first frying it. Author Rae Katherine Eighmey says this was Abraham’s Lincoln favorite way to cook fricassee.
“Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen”
If you love historic recipes, this is a reference book your library deserves.
In fact, it is a culinary biography the publishers claim is unlike any before.
The title asserts that Abraham Lincoln cooked. While seemingly unlikely, it appears that it’s true.
Author Eighmey writes of Lincoln’s favorite recipes, like Chicken Fricassee, gingerbread, barbecue, and more.
After countless research studying Lincoln’s grocery bills in Springfield ledgers, she’s discovered the foods and recipes he loved.
And now, they’re also available to us. Translated from 1820 to 1865 era recipes, they’ve been modernized and adapted for today’s home cooks.
And she writes, “Feel free to pull up a chair to Lincoln’s table.”
This Chicken Fricassee is an adaptation of hers.
Abraham Lincoln’s Chicken Fricassee Ingredients
Here’s what you need to make this simple dish. The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- A whole chicken (3 to 4 lb.) or a cut-up whole chicken
- Grated nutmeg
- Ground mace
- Cream, half-and-half, or milk
- All-purpose flour
- Thinly sliced ham, optional
- Salt and pepper
How to Make Chicken Fricassee
Step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card below, but here’s a quick overview of how to make these historic recipe!
- Remove skin from the chicken. Then combine salt, pepper, nutmeg, mace, and marjoram, and rub into the chicken.
- Add chicken pieces to a large skillet, pour cream over the top and turn to coat.
- Cook over medium heat until it begins bubbling. Then cover, lower to a simmer, and cook about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
- To make the sauce: combine butter and flour together before gradually whisking it into the remaining cooking liquid. Cook until it thickens.
- Return the chicken to the pan and cook until heated through.
How to Serve Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite Chicken Fricassee
It’s been noted in records that Abraham Lincoln loved to serve this chicken with thinly sliced ham around the edges of the platter. He also loved a biscuit to go with dinner. Hundreds of years later, I think he is absolutely right! Biscuits and fricassee belong together!
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- 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 lb.) or a cut-up whole chicken
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 2 teaspoons fresh marjoram or 1⁄2 tsp. dry leaves
- 1 1⁄2 cups cream, half-and-half, or milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons ﬂour
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced ham, optional
- If you buy a whole chicken, cut it into 8 similar size pieces and remove the skin. Separate the drum from the thigh as well. If using a cut-up chicken, remove the skin as well.
- Combine salt, pepper, nutmeg, mace, and marjoram, and rub into the chicken.
- Place the chicken pieces in a large skillet with a lid. Pour the cream or milk over the chicken, and turn to coat the pieces.
- Cook over medium heat until the liquid begins to bubble, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer until the chicken is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
- Combine the butter and flour and then gradually add it into the remaining liquid in the pan. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens.
- Return the chicken to the sauce and reheat. I like to check an instant-read thermometer to make sure the chicken has come to temperature. Place thinly sliced ham around the edges of the platter or skillet and serve with biscuits and Abraham Lincoln liked to do.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 306Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 311mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 24g