Chicken Fricassee

February: Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)

The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743-July 4, 1826), is credited as being America’s first epicurean. Through his travels and work in international relations, he developed a penchant for fine and foreign foods. From Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and South America, he imported vegetables like okra, lima beans, eggplants, garlic, peanuts, peppers, tomatoes and olive oil. From Europe, France in particular, he made popular French cuisine and asked his chefs to prepare it often.

Chicken fricassee is an adaptation of a classic French stew, which includes making a roux. This dish was one of the favorites of the “Founding Foodie” (some sources also note that chicken fricassee was loved by the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln). So make this comfort food, which is perfect for Presidents’ Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from CD Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • oil for frying
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white cooking wine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup half and half cream

Directions

Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika. In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the chicken until browned. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pot, add the flour and cook in the chicken fat-oil until light brown, adding the water a little at a time to make a smooth sauce. Stir in the wine. Put the chicken back in the pot, cover, and simmer on low heat for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, chop the onions, slice the mushrooms, chop the sage and parsley. When the chicken is cooked, transfer to a plate. Strain the gravy in a bowl and set aside. In the same pot, melt the butter over low heat.

Sauté the onions with the mushrooms. Stir in the chopped sage and parsley.

Return the chicken and gravy to the pot. Stir in the cream to thicken. Serve hot over pasta or rice.

Notes

  • Chicken fricassee is popular in the South. Jefferson was a Southerner from Virginia. Islander has met some Cajuns from Louisiana at the local culinary book club in Texas and they introduced her to this recipe.
  • Search our blog for other presidential and patriotic recipes.

Lincoln Cake

lincolncake

February 12: Birthday of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1809)

We have been to Washington, D.C., on several occasions for business and pleasure. One of the many monuments we have visited was that of the 16th American president. A huge statue of Abraham Lincoln sits peacefully within his stately national memorial—we hope his expression reflects that we, too, could have peace across the land that he loved.

Speaking of which, here is a cake recipe that Lincoln loved. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, supposedly made this almond-flavored confection while they were courting and throughout their marriage. As First Lady, she also made this comforting cake while in the White House. Bake this as a birthday cake in honor of one of America’s most popular presidents—Abraham Lincoln.

Recipe

(Adapted from Parade)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ounces blanched slivered almonds, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup sugar, superfine (caster sugar)
  • ¾ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ¼ cup flour, sifted

Directions

Chop up the almonds finely to resemble coarse crumbs. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until they are thick with a pale yellow color (about 3-5 minutes).

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Gradually beat in the sugar until blended well. Stir in the almond and lemon extracts. Mix in the almonds.

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Stir in the flour. Fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites into the flour mixture until lightened. Then gradually fold in the rest of the egg whites.

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Pour into an ungreased tube pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool upside down. Carefully remove the cake from the pan. Slice and serve.

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Notes

  • Our final food photo above features lots of Lincoln pennies (unfortunately, we do not have enough five dollar bills!). Look on the back of the penny. Some one-centers have different designs on the back, from the old wheat, Lincoln Memorial and other commemorative bicentennial images to the current Union shield.
  • This cake does not rise as high like an angel food cake. But it is still light, fluffy and delicious for a snack.
  • Search our blog for other patriotic recipes.