For over eighteen years Norm and I would pile our three kids into the blue Volvo station wagon on Friday afternoons and head down to Palm Springs where Norm’s parents would rent a condo every winter. Pinnie and Lil were snow-birds, leaving behind their home in Toronto and flying West to enjoy six weeks of sunshine and warm weather and, of course, their grandchildren. The parents of our close friends vacationed in the same complex which meant that the children had their friends, we had ours, and Bubbie and Zaidie had us all. Some years my sisters-in-law and their families would come in from Canada or Israel, giving the cousins the opportunity to spend time together. Our days were spent sitting at the pool relaxing, and watching the kids play Marco Polo. There were also hikes in Joshua Tree, tennis matches, outings to the local flea market, February birthday celebrations, and of course, many meals. After the inevitably long trip from Los Angeles, we knew that Bubbie and Zadie were waiting on the other end keeping Shabbat dinner warm. We often made it just in time for supper, and we could predict with a fair amount of certainty what that would be. It would include either vegetable or chicken soup, cornflake coated chicken, salad, and the all time favorite, chicken fricassee. I had never heard of fricassee before I met my mother-in-law. It is a delicious stew of chicken balls and wings, cooked together in a slightly sweetened tomato based sauce and it was the perfect dish to eat after a long, trying car trip. The chicken balls were tender, the wings would fall apart as you ate them, and the sauce would soak into the mashed potatoes. As often as I have I made this dish, it never tastes exactly like Lil’s. I have gone over the recipe with her many times but maybe you have to be a Bubbie to get it just right. We are going to Toronto in October to visit Bubbie and Zaidie and maybe with a little luck and a BIG hint, we will have fricassee waiting when we arrive.
*August 7th is Lil’s 85th birthday and we all wish you a Happy Birthday!!! See you soon.
Lil’s Chicken Fricassee
10 chicken wings, cut at the joint
2 lbs. ground chicken
1 large onion, finely diced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and form into balls. Set aside.
1- 29 oz. can tomato sauce
1-15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 large brown onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
salt and pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a very large pot. Bring to a boil and stir. Add wings first and then carefully add chicken balls. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook fricassee for about two hours.