Chicken marengo

Chicken marengo

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery
Serves
6

The battle of Marengo in 1800 was a victory for Napoleon’s army. It marked another victory – for the little general’s chef created a dish, fit for the conquering hero, from food found in the surrounding fields and looted gardens. He took a chicken, a head of garlic, a few tomatoes, some bay, parsley and thyme and a few field mushrooms. These were sautéed in the oil and finished with the wine that travelled with the French army. A few freshwater crayfish were added, with a fried egg and some crisp fried bread. Today, these last three ingredients may be omitted.

Napoleon enjoyed the dish, claiming, it is said: ‘It has been a glorious day, my children. I am well pleased with you.’ Along with the battle, the dish created on that day has entered history.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2kg chicken pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
plain flour
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bouquet garni
250ml white wine
60ml brandy
2 large tomatoes, peeled and quartered
12 mushrooms
parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper and coat lightly with flour. Heat oil and butter in a frying pan and brown chicken over high heat until golden on all sides, turning frequently. Transfer to a flameproof casserole and add garlic, bouquet garni, white wine, brandy and tomatoes.
  2. Cover casserole tightly and cook gently for 30 minutes, turning chicken pieces several times with wooden spoon. Add mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes longer or until chicken is tender. Adjust seasoning and discard bouquet garni. Serve in casserole, sprinkled with chopped parsley. The dish may be garnished with heart-shaped croûtes, a fried egg for each serving, and cooked lobster.
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