Mary M. Peter’s Tomato Fricassee (1889)

Mary M. Peter’s Tomato Fricassee (1889)
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tomato fricassee and biscuits
Served over hot biscuits, this made a great light meal!

We don’t know who Mary M. Peter was; however, we found this recipe in a small, but packed, book of historic recipes, and had to try it. It just sounded so intriguing, and, in reading the list of ingredients, we had no idea how it would turn out. The authors of The Historic Kentucky Kitchen, Deirdre A. Scaggs and Andrew W. McGraw, stated that they just fell in love with this recipe. That’s enough to get us to try it.

Okay, we will say that we changed this ever so slightly, not from the original, but closer to the original. For this particular recipe, there was a facsimile of the original hand-written recipe that indicated one should use white pepper — at least that’s what we thought it said — while the author’s version indicated black pepper. It’ll be pretty much the same either way, but we’re going with what we think is closer to the original.

Mary M. Peter’s Tomato Fricassee (1889)

Yield: 4 servings

Mary M. Peter’s Tomato Fricassee (1889)


  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • Pinch baking soda
  • 3 eggs

Abbreviated Instructions

In a medium saucepan, combine tomatoes, butter, onion, salt, pepper, and baking soda. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whisk eggs thoroughly and pour into the tomato mixture while stirring continuously. Continue heating and stirring until the mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and serve over buttered toast or biscuits.

Ingredient discussion:

What’s that? Eggs in Tomato Fricassee? Yes, it does seem strange, but it works. Of course, use some good eggs, by which we mean from pastured hens. You’ll probably have to stop at your farmers’ market, or find a neighbor who’s raising hens, but the extra trouble is worth it. You get better eggs, you support your local economy, and the hens live a better life than those in egg factories. We did use white pepper because we had it on hand, but black pepper is just fine. We actually think you might need more pepper than what’s called for, but leave that up to whoever is dining. Finally, the original recipe called for serving this on buttered toast, but the authors suggested that it would be good on biscuits, so we whipped up a batch of our Best-Ever Biscuits. Oh, the only reason we can think of for the baking soda is to cut a bit of the acid from the tomatoes.

Procedure in detail:

making tomato fricassee
Nothing fancy; just put all the ingredients, except the eggs, in a pan to simmer.

Combine. In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes, onion, butter, salt, pepper, and baking soda. Place over medium heat and stir until the butter is melted and mixed in.

tomato fricasse
Even without the eggs, this looks and smells delicious.

Simmer. Continue to simmer the tomato mixture for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. To us, it was already surprising how good this smelled, although we were still trepidacious about adding the eggs.

tomato fricassee
It’ll take about 5 minutes, or so, for the tomato fricassee to thicken up. Once it does, remove from the heat.

Add eggs. In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk the eggs as though you were making scrambled eggs. Once all the whites are broken apart and the mixture is uniform, start stirring the tomato sauce. While continuing to stir, pour in the eggs. Don’t worry, they won’t scramble, at least if you’re stirring. The mixture will thin, but continue stirring and cooking until it thickens up, about 5 minutes. Once thickened, remove from heat.

Serve. Scoop over buttered toast, or, as we did, hot biscuits.

We didn’t really know what to expect. We expected it to be good, but it was really good. The fricassee is nice and creamy, and, with the eggs, it’s substantial enough for a light meal. It’s similar to some tomato gravies that we’ve had in the past, but richer, since it uses eggs for thickening, instead of a roux. We’ll say four stars.

Worth the trouble?

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