In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates a chicken recipe inspired by one of Napoleon’s famous battles.
According to legend, Chicken Marengo was a dish hastily invented by Napoleon’s cook from whatever ingredients he could get hold of, following the French leader’s narrow victory at the battle of Marengo in 1800. It was more likely to have been invented in a French restaurant and named after the battle to add to its prestige. There are a number of variations on the recipe, but this one seemed like a relatively simple version.
• 2 skinless chicken breast fillets, each cut into two or three pieces
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp plain white flour
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 100g mushrooms, sliced
• 150ml dry white wine
• 150ml stock
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 3 tbsp tomato purée
• 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
• 150g long-grain rice
• 2 eggs
Heat a frying pan and add the oil. Dab the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel and coat thinly with flour. Sauté over a medium heat for five minutes.
Transfer the chicken pieces to a medium-sized, lidded saucepan. Add the onion and mushrooms to the frying pan and sauté these for around six minutes. Once tender, add to the saucepan. Take the frying pan off the heat and add the wine, before pouring this enriched wine into the saucepan.
Add the stock, garlic and tomato purée to the saucepan and stir well. Bring it to the boil and then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the sauce is reduced. Meanwhile, cook the rice and fry the eggs.
Serve the chicken and sauce on a bed of rice. Sprinkle with parsley and garnish with a fried egg.
Time: 90 minutes
BBC History Magazine team verdict: “Both a military and culinary triumph”.
Recipe courtesy of Napoleon’s Chicken Marengo by Andrew Uffindell (Frontline, 2011) pen-and-sword.co.uk
This article was first published in the June 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine.