Here’s a recipe for someone who knows a bit about butchery!
Many of us have lost these skills now that poultry and other meat can be bought fully prepared and packaged from the supermarket.In the Cookbook of Unknown Ladies there are no such shortcuts. Georgian cooks had to be prepared to get their hands dirty, as chickens were sourced live from small-holdings or street traders.
Vendors announced their arrival with the cry of ‘Buy my fat chickens‘ as they walked the London streets with cages of chickens slung over their shoulders.
In this recipe for a white fricassée, three large chickens need to be gutted, skinned and jointed before being popped in the cooking pot.
To Make a White Frygasy of Chickens
Take 3 large chickens, skin them & cut them joynts & wash them very white & rub them with a dry cloath & then boyl very well in water whitend with a little flower. When the are boild enough poure of the water & take a little cream & stire them a little in it & then take near half a pint of cream & thicken it up with 3 yolks & 2 or 3 prints of butter drawn thick. Beat all these together. When the chickens have stued a while in the cream, put about a nagin of white wine wth some cloves & mace & when it is near redy, put in the thickning.
There are a couple of antiquated terms in the recipe, which are worth explaining:
A print of butter
Dairies would use a carved wooden stamp to ‘print’ their pats of butter. The print design could feature a simple emblem, such as a thistle, or even comprise the producer’s initials. As well as being decorative, it marked the butter as the work of a particular producer. Once stamped, each pat of butter would be wrapped in linen for sale.
A ‘nagin’ of white wine
A nagin or ‘noggin’ was a measurement of spirits, equivalent to ¼ of a pint.