From 1887: Chicken à la Bonne Femme

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I love that even back in 1887 (100 years before I was born!), chicken was a go-to dinner. Chicken is so easy, and it can really become anything you want.

So, what are we cooking? Chicken à la bonne femme from Entrées à la Mode published in 1887.

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Let’s go into the kitchen and make some history!

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Here are our ingredients: Butter, chicken breast, onion, carrots, flour, chicken stock, white wine, diced tomatoes, sweet herbs (rosemary and thyme), mushrooms, parsley, salt, and pepper.

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Step 1: Prep the ingredients. Chop up the onion – if yours is huge like mine was, just use half. Chop the carrots into rounds; chop the parsley; pull out a sprig of rosemary and a sprig or two of thyme; rinse the mushrooms.

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Step 1.1: Chop up the chicken into bite-size pieces.

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Step 2: Melt two tablespoons of butter in a high-sided skillet, or whatever pan you like to cook in. Once it’s melted and bubbling lightly, add in the chicken and season it with a teaspoon of salt and a few twists of black pepper.

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Step 3: Cook the chicken for two to three minutes on each side. You don’t want to cook it through – you just want to brown it.

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Step 3.3: Once the chicken is browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside.

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Step 4: Add the carrots and onions to the pan and cook them for five to six minutes over medium heat until the carrots start to soften.

Note: You may want to just add the carrots first and cook them for five to six minutes, then add the onion and cook for an additional three to four minutes. The goal is to have the carrots cooked completely in the end (duh!), and this might be a better way to achieve that!

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Step 5: Then, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over the vegetables and stir to coat them.

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Step 6: Slowly stir in the chicken stock so that you start to form a nice sauce. Then, add in the white wine and the tomatoes.

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Step 7: Add the chicken back into the skillet. Then, add in the rosemary and the thyme. Stir everything together then raise the heat to allow it all to come to boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer for ten minutes.

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Step 8: After ten minutes, add a half a cup to a cup of sliced mushrooms. I’m not a mushroom fan, but my husband is, so I added enough for him to enjoy! Stir everything together and let it simmer for another five minutes. Then, taste the sauce and adjust your seasonings. I added a pinch more salt, and it was perfect!

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Final step: Remove the sprigs of rosemary and thyme, and sprinkle the parsley over the top. This dish is almost too pretty to eat!

From 1887: Chicken à la Bonne Femme

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 carrots, chopped into rounds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2-1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a high-sided skillet or saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles form.
  2. Add the chicken, season with 1 tsp. salt and a few twists of black pepper, and cook 2-3 minutes per side until browned. Do not cook through. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add carrots to the pan, and cook for 5-6 minutes. Then, add the onion and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat.
  5. Slowly stir in the chicken stock to begin making a sauce. Then, stir in the white wine and the diced tomatoes.
  6. Return chicken to the pan, and add in the rosemary and thyme. Stir to combine. Raise heat to bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the mushrooms and adjust seasonings. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the rosemary and thyme. Sprinkle the parsley on top. Serve immediately over egg noodles or rice.

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From 1916: Chicken and Egg Sandwiches

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It was the year 1916. Over fifteen countries were in the midst of fighting World War I, and though the United States hadn’t entered the war yet, times were tough. Eighty-five percent of men over the age of fourteen were in the workforce, and most of the work they did was in manufacturing – that means they worked in factories. The work was hot, monotonous, and dangerous, and the new addition of time clocks kept them going for around fifty-five hours per week. And, though goods of all sorts were beginning to be produced in mass, the newness of the mass-production culture inflated prices for those goods. Americans began to eat boxed cereals, as well as meats processed with lard, but they spent an entire third of their incomes putting that food on their tables.

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