Issue 30

That 70s Dinner: Chicken Elderberry Recipe

That 70s Dinner: Chicken Elderberry Recipe

This family recipe came from Germany, along with my great grandma Buss. Grandpa and Grandma Buss started a new life here in Nebraska in the early 1900’s. Although I never knew them, I’m told that in the old days in Germany it was originally made with fish instead of chicken.

I still remember times as a young boy helping to gather wild elderberries from along the country roads that were brought back to the kitchen to be cooked down into the prized elderberry paste that was the star ingredient of our beloved family dish. I doubt most of our readers will be able to forage for their own wild elderberries, so I’ve adapted the recipe to use a locally sourced elderberry syrup or elderberry jelly made from fresh elderberries and locally produced honey. Since great grandma originally used fish, I also experimented with swordfish and found it to be quite delicious.

Feeling confident that I had faithfully recreated the beloved recipe, I recently invited the family over for a chicken elderberry dinner. This final test was rewarded with requests for seconds and thirds as well a few nonverbal groans of pleasure. My brother, sister, brother-in-law and I remembered long forgotten details as we spoke of all the memories we had of this flavorful dish.

Chicken Elderberry (Serves 4-6)


4 – 5 lbs. chicken, cut up

1 heaping tsp pickling spice

1-2 bay leaves

½ tsp black peppercorns

1 cardamon pod (available at India markets or Whole Foods)

Zest of half a lemon

Tie the zest and all the spices except the cinnamon in a small section of cheese cloth (available at most grocery stores)

1 large onion diced

½ cup of cider vinegar

Juice of half a lemon

1¼ cups All About Bees Elderberry Honey Syrup

or 1cup elderberry jelly

¾ to 1 cup flour (may need more or less depending on desired thickness)

½ cup heavy cream


Salt and pepper the chicken. Then brown the chicken in batches, 4-5 minutes per side in 3 Tbs. olive oil heated in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Remove the chicken to a platter. Drain all but a few Tbs. of the oil and rendered chicken fat.

Add the onions and sauté over medium heat till translucent.

Add the chicken back to the pot along with the spice bag and cinnamon stick. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the vinegar and lemon juice and elderberry syrup or jelly to the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Turn the heat to low and remove chicken to a platter.

Put flour in a measuring cup and add a cup or two of the stew broth whisking till smooth to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the pot slowly whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Turn the heat up while continuing to whisk till the sauce thickens. You may also thicken the stew with cornstarch instead of flour for those that are gluten sensitive.

Reduce heat cooking for few more minutes to remove raw flour taste, stir in the cream, add salt and pepper to taste and then add the chicken back to the pot. Be careful to keep at a lower temperature once thickened as it will burn easily at this stage.

Great served over boiled or mashed potatoes.

Charles Schlussel

Charles Schlussel

Professional head shaver, reckless adventurer, erstwhile semi-pro skydiver*(*amateur lander), fanatical tomato lover, All around awesome cook extraordinaire.

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  1. Serena Slaughter
    Serena Slaughter 4 July, 2017, 17:22

    So happy to have located this recipe. Cannot wait to try it out for my Mom. My Grandparents Norman & Mary Matthes made this dish often. (Funny you should mention your Grandpa & Grandma Buss … My Great Grandma was born Alma Buss (married Matthes .. Germany to Norfolk Nebraska area)

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