A chicken stew flavored by tradition


Family recipes: we know them, and we love them, but most of all, we get frustrated with them. Or is that just me?

If you’ve seen my blog posts, Cooking with Lisa, you know that I struggle with vague cooking recipes that tell me to add “a pinch” here and “a dash” there.

No one is a bigger offender of this than my mom, Sally Maybruch, and you’ll see it in her recipe that I give here. She literally instructs you to sprinkle the dish with paprika “like a nice Connecticut snow cover”! Are we talking flurries here, or a nor’easter? And what does that equal in tablespoons?

Although I get frustrated when I can’t duplicate her recipe for Frickin Chicazee perfectly, I always end up feeling nostalgic and laughing. And the dish is always delicious.

This recipe is so special because not only is it being passed down from my mom to me, but it was passed down to her from her mom. That’s double the memories and double the flavor!

For my mom, Frickin Chicazee is a dish that my grandmother made in order to find fun ways to eat different meats. For me, it’s “that dish you made the night you met that famous guy at Stop & Shop.” Here’s my mom’s story:

 “A few years ago, I was trying to pick onions from the local grocery store to make the stew. The small onions were not very good quality, and that night, fellow shopper and entertainer Harvey Fierstein agreed. Could you believe he was just standing right next to me? He suggested we look at the yellow onions instead.

“When I expressed my concern that they might not be the right onions for my special recipe, he inquired what the recipe was. I told him it was my special dish, called Frickin Chickazee. Well, what a belly laugh came from Harvey Fierstein! I was entertaining the entertainer! I explained it was my own twist on a childhood memory. He sighed and said, ‘You know ... if we could only buy our childhood memories, we would have to be very wealthy indeed.’ And there the entertainer gave me a special memory.”

Here is my mom’s special dish, along with her unique notes.

LISA MAYBRUCH (lmaybruch@jewishallianceri.org) is the manager of adult programs for the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.


Frickin Chicazee 


For stew  

1 cup water to start 

2 pounds beef cubes (cut into smaller pieces after the butcher does)

1 cube Telma beef flavored stock 

1 can tomato paste 

1/2 cup Marsala wine 

1 to 2 bay leaves 

1 teaspoon basil 

1 clove garlic 

1 teaspoon brown sugar 

2 small onions, nice, picked Harvey Fierstein style 

Carrots (sliced, 1 stick for each pound of meat) 


1 dozen chicken wings (discard tip of wing and cut remainder into 2) or 1 pound dark-meat chicken 

1 pound veal cubes (cut same as above) 

2-3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed 




For matzo balls 

2 large eggs 

2 to 3 ounces water

2 to 3 ounces oil 

1/2 cup matzo meal (add more matzo meal 1 tablespoon at a time if too liquidy) 


Crock-Pot method: no need to add additional liquid, slow cook all day on medium heat. 

Stove-top method: after initial simmering, turn to low heat, watch, stir every here and there and add liquid as necessary. We’re talking 6-8 hours. 

You may use a skillet to brown the beef and veal in oil first for either method, but who needs the extra calories? If you do brown in a skillet, you may as well sprinkle with a little flour during the process. It will help bind the gravy nicely. But … this dish is tasty enough without browning. I suggest the following:

  1. Heat water, then add beef cubes, beef flavored stock, tomato paste, wine, bay leaf, basil, garlic and sugar. Add onions, cut in half, and the sliced carrots. When all is simmering, sprinkle a little flour, maybe a 1/2 teaspoon (skip this if you browned the meat), add chicken and veal. Cover with paprika (like a nice Connecticut snow cover) and cover the pot. (Leave the cover a little open if doing stove top.)  
  2. If you are making on the stove top, cook the potatoes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray an oven dish with cooking spray and add the diced potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika and mix in a little oil. Keep in oven until potatoes start to get slightly crispy, 25 minutes, flipping halfway. Set aside until needed. Eventually the potatoes are added to the pot. This method keeps them from getting mushy. If you want the potatoes soft and mushy, or you want to add all to one pot to keep life a little simpler, feel free. If you use the slow-cooker method, the potatoes should go in the bottom layer from the beginning
  3. Prepare the matzo ball mixture ahead of time, or at least 30 minutes before adding to the pot: beat eggs gently, add water and oil. Add matzo meal and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate.
  4. Now, this is the kick to the whole dish: about 20 to 30 minutes before serving (make sure all the meats are tender and there is a nice coat of steam on your kitchen window), it’s time to add the matzo ball mixture. This is for both the slow-cooker method and the stove-top method. Coat your palms with a little oil and roll marble-sized matzo balls. Add straight to the more liquid sections of the pot. This takes time; have patience, it’s worth it. (You may want to double the matzo ball recipe after folks start diving for the matzo balls and leave you with none.) 
  5. Continue cooking until matzo balls are cooked through, add the baked potatoes to the stove-top pot, serve over wide noodles and enjoy! (My husband also likes the stew with rice.) 
food, chicken