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Elizabeth Raffald’s fricassee is one of the “made dishes” enjoyed in the eighteenth century. Her clear directions included combining the ingredients and stewing them “together till your chickens are tender.” Regarding the gravy, she cautioned that once the egg yolks and cream are added to the rest of the mixture, the cook should “shake it over the fire, but do not let it boil”—a helpful warning to bear in mind even today.

This recipe is a modern adaptation by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump from the book Dining with the Washingtons.


  • 5 pounds bone-in chicken breasts and thighs, skinned
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 1/2 lemon, halved
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 large egg yolks, beaten until thick and lemon colored
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and place in a large Dutch oven. Pour in 2 cups of the broth. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter, lemon, marjoram, mace, nutmeg, and lemon thyme sprigs. Pierce the onion with the cloves, and add to the pan along with the anchovy paste and the wine.

2. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to blend the ingredients, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

3. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

4. Transfer the chicken to a deep serving platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and set aside in the warm oven. Strain the broth, discarding the solids, and reserve 2 cups. (Freeze any remaining broth for later use for up to 6 months.) Return the strained broth to the Dutch oven, and bring back to a simmer over low heat.

5. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter with the flour in a small bowl. Mix in a little of the hot broth, and then gradually stir it back into the simmering broth. Blend in thoroughly and simmer for about 2 minutes, until the broth has thickened slightly.

6. Mix the egg yolks with the cream, stirring to combine thoroughly. Blend into the broth gradually. Continue to cook, and stir until the broth simmers. Do not let it boil, or the egg yolks will curdle. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

7. Return the chicken to the thickened sauce, coating it well.

8. Return the chicken to the deep serving platter, and spoon some of the sauce around it. Pour the remaining sauce into a sauceboat to accompany the dish.

Serves 6 to 8