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Hannah Glasse, from whose cookbook this recipe is adapted, informed her readers that this ragout “makes a pretty little dish, and [is] very good.” An identical recipe is found in The Lady’s Companion (1753), a cookbook that Mrs. Washington’s younger sister, Anna Maria (Nancy) Dandridge Bassett, owned.

This recipe was adapted by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.


  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large onions, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs


1. In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onions and sauté, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown.

2. Add the flour, salt, and pepper, and stir until well combined with the onions. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the stock and mustard. Continue stirring until the ragout is well combined and thickens slightly. Pour into a serving bowl, and keep warm.

4. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned.

5. Sprinkle the buttered breadcrumbs over the onions, and serve warm.

Serves 6 to 8