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.
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August 9, 2010 at 8:04 PM
My auntie Gert made chicken fricassee too. It was one of my favorites. She also made a killer cole slaw with white vinegar (no mayo) and peppers. The meatballs were beef and very small and she served the dish with egg noodles. Our family was of Russian descent….is fricassee Germanic?
August 9, 2010 at 9:05 PM
I am not sure about the origin but Norm’s Mom is of Russian descent. Actually a friend was over for Shabbat dinner and his parents were German and never served fricassee. Do you have the cole slaw recipe??
Egg noodles is a GREAT idea as an alternative to potatoes. My mother served egg noodles with veal schnitzle. It was great.
August 6, 2010 at 6:13 PM
My grandma also made fricassee. Is it possible that she might have combined meatballs with the chicken? I’ll have to ask my mom if she remembers. Anyhow – I am definitely going to try this recipe. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Love the story as always.
August 6, 2010 at 6:15 PM
P.S. I meant to say beef meatballs.
August 7, 2010 at 8:20 PM
Glad to hear from you!! I keep checking your blog. Where was your grandma from?? I am sure that originally my mother-in-law used beef. She just told my husband that the secret ingredient is grape jelly. Her sauce is much darker than mine and now I know why. Not sure how much and the idea doesn’t thrill me but it might be worth trying.
August 6, 2010 at 11:35 AM
I always look for chicken recipes that will result in moist, fall off the bone, and full of flavor meat. This sounds delicious, I’ll have to give it a try.
August 6, 2010 at 11:57 AM
Thanks Shani. I think you’ll like this one. Easy and the meatballs can be put in a crusty roll for lunch!
August 6, 2010 at 8:25 AM
This sounds delicious! It got me interested the definition of fricassee, which I looked up on Wikipedia. There are links there to other recipes, and I bet you could do that too!
August 6, 2010 at 8:54 AM
Thanks Susan!! I will check out the other recipes and see what they are like. Let me know if you try any of them.
August 5, 2010 at 9:45 PM
I have great memories of that blue Volvo! My mom also made chicken fricassee — Southern style, of course. I can’t remember it very well — but I’ll get her recipe. All I remember is how much we loved it.
August 6, 2010 at 7:35 AM
It would be great to have that recipe, share it with us on the blog!! I think you were the only one who didn’t have a Volvo then.