Chicken Marengo in 2 recipes, traditional and modern – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

La Cucina Italiana


Prepared on the day of the battle of the same name, the chicken at Marengo he also became a legend. Here it is, in a less “warlike” and more harmonious way, in two main course recipes: traditional and modern. But first let’s discover the history of this legendary dish, which is still popular today.

The history of chicken Marengo

Napoleon he was not a great gourmet, he dedicated only the necessary time to food, he ate in a hurry and never before battles. He was hungry, therefore, on the afternoon of June 14, 1800, after the most important victory of his life, in Marengo. An almost unexpected triumph against the Austrian army, which he managed to beat with a counterattack made possible by the arrival of General Desaix, with fresh troops. A crucial moment in the history of Europe, which made the town of Spinetta Marengo, in the province of Alessandria, and glorious Napoleon. Which, finally returning from the fighting fields, he asked his cook Dunand something to eat. He sent his cooks to look for ingredients in the nearby farms; he then didn’t have time to think of a well-thought-out dish with what they brought him, and so he put together chicken, tomatoes, eggs, mushrooms, crayfish, sprinkled them with lemon and a little Cognac, and presented his dish. The success was immediate and definitive: from then on what was immediately christened “chicken alla Marengo” became untouchable.

Dunand later tried to modify the recipe, presenting more suitable versions to Napoleon. But every attempt was rejected: the general, superstitious, demanded that it always be prepared in the exact same way as on the day of the battle. Not all sources agree on the original “formula”. The historian Massimo Alberinifor example, claims that it was much simpler, only chicken sautéed with oil, white wine and parsley: Artusi, for example, presents a version without tomatoes, prawns and mushrooms, which seem to be later additions. But just like the battle of Marengo, this recipe also has something legendary about it.

«…it was called Pollo alla Marengo; and it is said that it was always in Napoleon’s favor, if not because of his merit, but because it reminded him of that glorious victory.” PELLEGRINO ARTUSI

Two versions between tradition and modernity

We propose it in one of the classic versions that have come down to us and in a lighter and more harmonious reworking: only the chicken breast, roasted rather than stewed, accompanied with a sauce prepared with puree and shellfish heads, like a bisque . We choose scampi, similar in delicacy to river prawns, but easier to find, and leave the mushrooms raw. The crouton with the fried egg, however, becomes a crouton just brushed with egg, browned in a pan.

Chicken Marengo – traditional recipe

Ingredients for 6 people

  • 1.2 kg of chicken breast
  • 500 g plum tomatoes
  • 150 g cleaned champignon mushrooms
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 flour prawn tails
  • garlic
  • lemon
  • homemade bread
  • butter
  • chopped parsley
  • dry white wine
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil

This recipe has already been read 85 times!

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