Chicken Chasseur and…The Lord’s Day

Sunday was the Lord’s day when I was growing up.  You went to church.  And you didn’t rock up in any old thing, you brushed your hair, cleaned your teeth and wore your Sunday best.

Chicken Chasseur

And you didn’t only attend church, you went to choir practise as well.  Choir practise was on for an hour before church so our Sundays started early.  Dad would drop me and my older sister off at the church and later when my younger sister, Emma turned seven, she was allowed to come as well.

The practise room was separated from the church by a long corridor and was as cold as ice.  We were taught how to sing by a very lovely man whose son had gone off the rails and murdered his wife.

After an hour of singing practise it was time to go into the vestry where the blue and white choir gowns were hanging on racks.  The vestry was colder than ice and the choir gowns so chilled-over they felt like they had been pulled from the freezer.  Once we were draped in our floor to chin frozen gowns we would wait for the organ to start and that was the cue for us to enter the church and take our positions in tiered seating at the front of the church where we could be viewed by all the parishioners.

We would rise to sing when the congregation sang but we’d sing two songs to the captive audience as well.  Sometimes someone in the choir was given a verse to sing solo but that honour eluded me.

After the singing part of the service had concluded, the organ would start up again and we would move out of the choir stalls in an orderly and silent fashion and head back to the vestry where we could remove our thawed out gowns.  Then it was off to Sunday School.

I loved Sunday School.  Emma and I were in the same class and there was always something fun organised like flower arranging, or craft or cooking where we would make pikelets that were later served in the church hall at the morning tea.  Once they brought in a police man to speak to us.  He didn’t carry a gun because the police in New Zealand didn’t carry guns, a baton was all they needed.  The policeman let us try the handcuffs on and we were super excited.  My cousin tightened the cuffs on her wrists and then she couldn’t release her hands.  The policeman told her he’d forgotten to bring the keys so she burst into tears.

After the morning tea we’d finally be on our way home.  When we walked in to the house we could instantly smell the roast my mother would have put in the oven before she left for church.  It was usually a lamb roast with potatoes, parsnip and kumera surrounding the leg of lamb.  All mum needed to do was cook the frozen peas, stir the gravy and make the mint sauce while we went upstairs and removed our ‘Sunday best’.

Did your family observe the Lord’s day?

Here’s a recipe my mother didn’t put in the oven before leaving the house for church but she did make this for her dinner parties.

Chicken Chasseur

Chicken with wine, mushrooms and shallots

Serves:  4-6

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5  (Because you have to joint a chicken, otherwise it’s an easy dish)

Cost:  This is quite inexpensive dinner party fare.  I only needed to buy the chicken and the mushrooms, everything else was in my fridge or pantry.

  • 1.5kg (3lb) chicken jointed into 8 pieces
  • 30g (1 oz) butter
  • 2 tbspns olive oil
  • 250gm (8 oz) Swiss Brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tspn sugar
  • small handful fresh tarragon leaves
  • 400gm tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tbspns tomato paste
  • 6 shallots, sliced
  • 2 tbspns chopped continental (flat leaf) parsley

Brown Sauce:

  • 125g (4 oz) butter
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock

Make the brown sauce first:

Heat butter in frying pan, add peeled and finely chopped onion and peeled and finely chopped carrot.  Saute very gently until onion and carrot are dark golden brown.  Add flour to pan, stir over low heat until flour is dark golden brown; do not allow to burn.  Remove pan from heat, add stock, stir until combined.  Return pan to heat, stir until sauce boils and thickens.  Reduce heat, season.  Cover pan, simmer very gently 1 hour.  Strain sauce, retain liquid.

Heat butter and oil in large frying pan.  Add half the chicken, fry gently on all sides until golden brown; remove chicken from pan.  Repeat with reamining chicken, remove from pan.

Add sliced mushrooms and crushed garlic to pan, saute gently until mushrooms are just tender.  Add wine, bring to boil, boil uncovered for 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.  Add prepared Brown Sauce, sugar, tarragon, tinned tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Season.  Add chicken, bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered 45 minutes or until chicken is tender; stir occasionally.  Add parsley and shallots.

Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or crusty bread and a green salad.

This recipe has been adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook. 

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  1. My mother is quite religious but I remember telling her that my sister and I didn’t like Sunday school and for some reason, she just let us quit it. I’m not sure why! But I have to say that I’m agnostic now and so is hubby.

  2. Oooooooh, yummy! Am definitely bookmarking this to make once my kitchen renovation is complete and I have an oven to cook with. Am drooling….. Thanks for sharing! xxx

  3. Am so enjoying the trip down memory lane – a cousin…not the one handcuffed (I think!).

  4. My parents have never been church goers, so I didn’t have any similar experience. When I was at school we had a policeman’s visit but he only talked about traffic, crossing the street etc.. Nothing exciting.
    The chicken looks delicious!

  5. We had Sundays like that but that’s probably because we also went to Catholic school during the week. It waned off a bit when we went to public high school.

  6. Sunday school was always fun, but then sitting through the services beside my mother was torture; all of that having to sit still business. I couldn’t sing in the choir because I could never carry a tune in a bucket. The chicken pictures are mouth-watering. I love visiting your blog.

  7. That sauce sounds absolutely delicious!!!

  8. I was never religious, nor were my parents but I did go to church a few times with friends who tried to convert me. I am still non-religious though.
    Your recipe is making me hungry even though I ate a huge dinner!

  9. I went to choir as well but Sundays was and still usually is kind of my dad’s day for cooking, he makes a paella, fideua, something grilled, depending on his mood but always great food

    Love the recipe, will have to try it at some stage!!

  10. Nice writing about your Sunday memories. The chicken recipe looks good also. Does jointed just mean in pieces?

  11. I grew up going to church with my family, much like you describe, until my Dad built a business (like a marina) that was open on Sundays. Nice memories. Haven’t made Chicken Chasseur in years. It’s nice to be reminded of such a solidly good dish!

  12. I always wanted to go to Sunday school, it’s what the ‘cool’ kids seemed to do…

  13. I love the looks of this dish. Once I saw wine in the ingredient list — I was sold. (What does that say about me?)

  14. We did … Still do, but without the same spit-and-polish as in childhood. No roast either! Now that is a tradition I should reinstate!

  15. We weren’t a church-going family but we used to always have ‘Sunday lunch.’ It was usually some seafood, a chicken and lots of bread and we’d set the table nicely. Sunday was always get-your-own-dinner day after the big lunch.

  16. I was brought up Catholic and went to a Catholic school so we didn’t have Sunday school, but we were the same in that everyone wore their Sunday best and made an effort. But I always felt sorry for the poor kids who had to go to school on Sundays.

  17. As a Catholic, like Amanda above, we didn’t have Sunday School. Back then, there were 4 masses every day and probably 6 on Sunday. In the old two-flat, all of us boys were altar servers and, living on the same block as the Church, we were always “on call” for services. If an altar boy failed to show up, we got the call to fill in. I remember a few times being pulled from the playground by a priest so that I could serve a mass or some service. Although it wasn’t easy for us, especially on school days, it was much worse for Mom. She had to get us up and out the door, on a moment’s notice, as early as 5:30 am. She never complained once. This dish sounds delicious and would be perfect for entertaining. Your Mum obviously knew what she was doing. 🙂

  18. I’m no expert on Sunday school. But if I had to be to have this meal well, OK I still wouldn’t be, but thankfully you printed the recipe.

  19. Reading a lot of your post remind me of growing up. My grandmother and mother would say the same thing.. Sunday is the Lords day and you went to church. It could be a snow storm and we went to church. I was in 2 choirs, went to Sunday School, and also help tutor the small kids. And we also would have roast on most Sundays.. yes this post was exactly how I lived my life and I LOVED IT and miss it tremendously. I absolutely loved reading this

    • hotlyspiced says:

      What a lovely comment. Thank you so very much. I’m so glad you had a similar childhood. Those were the good old days!

  20. My family is Jewish, so Saturday was our day. What I loved best about it was the sense of ‘clicking off’ from the world for a day and just enjoying time with your family. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that.

  21. Much the same as you, but no choir practice!!!

  22. Lovely post, Charlie, thank you! God definitely keeps a watch over us, and for that, we’re forever grateful… 🙂

  23. It’s always so lovely reading about your stories 🙂 my parents are really traditional Chinese and I think they’re probably more Buddhist than any other type of religion. So we never went to church or had any regular religious activities ~ but I remember going to church with my friend’s parents once and thought it was quite fun too because the kids all knew each other and got to play games with each other hehe

  24. This chicken looks divine, and I will be trying it soon to be sure! As for church, we were basically holiday goers when I grew up. I do recall an incident with scissors in Sunday school… a little boy at the table next to me, turned around, reached out with the scissors, and snipped my earlobe!!! Honestly, it was only a scratch, but when I remember it I try to think of why he did it. Knowing me it was probably something I said. I was a bit of a brat as a child. 😉 Thank you for visiting me and for the encouragement on my sewing skills. I have a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the journey.
    ~ Lynda

  25. Although a plain Christian now, I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness and we went to church 3 times a week, including Sunday. They don’t have Sunday School, although I feel that would have been beneficial for teaching us children about the Bible at our own level. Basically just a two hour event with a bible study first, then the service. I hated it growing up but have found my way to Christ as an adult. Anyway, your chicken sounds great! It would be a treat to come home to something like this!

  26. We went to church on Sunday’s and my brother and I did the mandatory Sunday school, but when I reached my teen age years we stopped going. A number of contributing factors which I won’t get into; now I go for weddings and funerals. What a great recipe, Charlie. My mom used to use the oven on a timer when we went out for an entire day. What a great memory you brought back for me.

  27. I remember my parents making us go to Sunday school when we were little. At first we were happy to go but then our friends stopped going and we didn’t want to go either. As my parent’s friends were the sunday school teachers we had to keep on going to support them. Because we were fed up we would then always end up arguing in the car on the way home and making my mum unhappy that we never seemed to pick up any ‘christian spirt’. Anyway, I love your chicken chasseur.

  28. Eeesh, I used to have to go whether I liked it or not because I was in the church choir! Bleurgh!

  29. We did, and still do, go every Sunday. Back then we would wear Sunday best, now it’s smart casual which is a bit more comfortable 🙂 When we grew too old for Sunday School we would start helping in the toddler groups which meant it kept us busy and gave the mums a break.
    We did play hookey from church today though as we had a InLaw family breakfast, as the only church goers we didn’t get a vote on timing 🙂

  30. Yes we did observe the Lords day in much the same way as you, without the choir thank god ( saturday was filled with Girl Guides!). Oh how times have changed…….

  31. Very humourous stories of your Sundays. My brother and I went to Sunday school when we were little (though we walked there by ourselves) and when we got home there would be a very nice lunch waiting.

    A very tasty chicken dish and the brown gravy was especially interesting as gravies are one of the things I don’t do often.

  32. Gorgeous! Just looking at it made my mouth water. I miss the Sunday suppers of my childhood. When we were newly married we also used to go to my in law’s every Sunday for a big dinner. I miss those traditions…I may just have to start a few of my own! 🙂

  33. As it is now the evening of the Lord’s Day here in Minnesota, I can say with certainty that I spent the mafority of my morning in church, as I do every sunday! It’s habit, yes, but it’s done for far more reasons than that. That’s where my dearest friends are. That’s where my kids love to be. That’s where I’m challenged to know God more. There are days I’d rather sleep in…but I very rarely do. When I’m there I’m glad to be there!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I know. When I don’t feel like going, that’s the best time to go. We had a dinner after church last night with a lot of our friends. It all went very well until a girl fell off the flying fox and broke her arm! We all went home after that.

  34. I really didn’t mean to laugh at your cousin but I think in pictures and had a vision of the policeman in quite a flap at the thought of making a little one burst out crying.
    I have fond memories of teaching Sunday School about 483 years ago (give or take) and recently found a picture of my class.
    🙂 Mandy

  35. Hey, what an absolutely heart-warming and sentimental post you’ve got here. Loved reading every word of it. And I also found it really inspiring to hear all your readers share about their faith in the comments. Being Christian myself, I always find it extremely encouraging to know of others who share the same beliefs. And I like how your Mum’s Chicken recipe just ties all your childhood memories and family tradition so well together. BRILLIANT post!!

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