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Abraham Lincoln’s Chicken Fricassee Recipe

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.

Chicken Fricassee in a Skillet

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.

Abraham Lincoln

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.

Brown Fricassee:

The chicken is first fried before cooking in the cream sauce.

White Fricassee:

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
  • Marjoram
  • Cream, half-and-half, or milk
  • Butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Thinly sliced ham, optional
  • Salt and pepper

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Chicken Fricassee in a Skillet

Abraham Lincoln's Chicken Fricassee

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Combine salt, pepper, nutmeg, mace, and marjoram, and rub into the chicken.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Combine the butter and flour and then gradually add it into the remaining liquid in the pan. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens.
  6. 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

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4 Comments

  1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have Mr. Lincoln back with us? Ith8nk he would be a really interesting dinner companion.

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