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Every week, we’re unearthing Heirloom Recipes -- dishes that have made their way from one generation's kitchen to the next.
My Grandma Esther grew up in Brooklyn, not all that far from where I live now. While she was raising my dad and my uncles in neighboring Queens, she was a wonderful and resourceful cook, known for her “cement soup” (a.k.a. split pea) and her oil-based plum cake. And she invented this dish, an easy stovetop chicken hash, because her sons were picky eaters.
“Chicken Fritz came to the table because your dad and your uncles would not eat white meat,” she told me. “Every Friday I used one chicken for soup and roasted one -- thereby leaving me with a lot of it.”
According to Grandma Esther, the boys wouldn’t eat chicken salad, the capable cook’s normal go-to use for leftover soup meat.
But, grandma said: “the boys would eat anything in the form of a latke.”
Also known as a hash brown! Brilliant Chicken Fritz doesn’t resemble boring white meat or gloppy chicken salad in the least. To make it, Grandma Esther fried chopped onions until their edges browned, then added shredded soup chicken to the skillet. The small pieces crisped up and absorbed the onion’s sweet notes. Lastly, she flavored the whole skillet with sweet paprika. Her daughter-in-law -- my mother -- thinks the purpose of the spice may be to further mask the white meat, but it tastes good too.
No matter that this is a dish of necessity, geared towards the taste buds of some 1950s-era children in Queens. It is delicious.
Though I’m not as picky as my dad and uncles, I do make an awful lot of chicken soup and can only eat so many chicken salad sandwiches. I grew up eating Chicken Fritz after my mom made soup, and the hash stands up to my grown-up tastes and needs. Because, like my grandma before me, I love to make homemade chicken broth but struggle to eat all the meat. Chicken Fritz is the obvious answer.
Makes 3-4 servings
1/4 cup safflower or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups cooked chicken (white or dark meat), shredded
Freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika