Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chicken Marengo (p. 433)

Chicken Marengo (p. 433) has an interesting history. It was the meal that Napoleon's chef created after the Battle of Marengo. Napoleon liked the dish and considered it lucky, refusing to let the chef change the recipe in the future. Wikipedia mentions that the original recipe included chicken, eggs, tomatoes, onions, and crawfish. Do you like food ancedotes? I should include more of them--I have entire books full of various food trivia. Useless knowledge--amaze your friends and neighbors!

The TJOC version doesn't include eggs or crawfish, fortunately. I don't know where I would find crawfish in Colorado.

I sauteed an onion in olive oil and removed it from the pan. I took six pounds of chicken (that is a LOT of chicken) and browned it in batches. And this point, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to fit all the chicken in the pan I was using and transferred the chicken to a large stockpot.

I added wine, garlic, thyme, a bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and tomatoes, and simmered it for about an hour:

I added some butter and lemon juice to the mixture. At this point, I got really confused. The next line says to "arrange chicken quarters, mushrooms, onions, and black olives in a large earthenware container". There were several problems to this. 1. What chicken quarters? My chicken is in pieces, not quarters. 2. What mushrooms? There were no mushrooms in the recipe. 3. Who has an earthenware container that big? Certainly not me.

So I looked up the corrections and there, of course, was Chicken Marengo.

I was in a jam at this point. I had to separate the chicken into two dishes because I didn't have an ovenproof dish big enough. I didn't have mushrooms or pearl onions (my nemesis, troublemaking yet again). I ladled the chicken mixture into two glass containers, stuck them in the fridge, and decided to finish the recipe the next day. They really weren't two dramatically different colors like this picture shows (it must be the lighting):

The next day I added the black olives, a jigger of brandy, and popped it in the oven:

This recipe is a good example of why I should really stay up on my postings. I can barely remember the flavor of this recipe.

On the other hand:

1. In my opinion, six to eight pounds of chicken results in way too much food.
2. The brandy was rather strong for a chicken dish.
3. I don't like eating chicken off the bone in this sort of recipe. Next time I make one of these recipes I will debone the thighs before I start. This is an annoyance both Josh and I share.
4. All that being said, it was a really cheap dish that made a LOT of food.
5. Even so I hate pearl onions.

Has anyone else ever had Chicken Marengo? Is this generally what it looks like?

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  1. I made Chicken Marengo and posted it to my blog. I thought it was good. There are so many variations, I bet it wouldn't taste the same twice! http://ohboykarencooks.blogspot.com/2010/01/chicken-marengo-poulet-la-marengo.html

  2. I've made Chicken Marengo from the JOC, dating back to 1976, when it was the first meal I made for my husband-to-be. (he was smitten).

    I think it was Julia Child who said the recipe was made from what was on hand after the battle of Marengo, and I take that as license to modify it at will. I've made many modifications to the recipe. First I cut it in half - 2 chickens is way to much. I have taken to making it in a LeCreuset buffet pan - a wide low covered pan, which at 3.5 qt, will barely contain a half recipe.

    I'm not a fan of pearl onions either and it offends me to use half an onion just to flavor the olive oil, then throw it away, so I reserve the onions as I'm browning the chicken and add them back in with tomatoes, etc. , and usually blow off the pearl onions. I saute the mushrooms separately in butter and lemon and add them,with the olives, at the very end. Not sure why your recipe doesn't say to do this, mine from the original book, certainly does say to. I've never bothered with the flambe.

    I think it is a great recipe and we've been married over 31 years. Some Blame it on the Bossa Nova. I blame it on the Chicken Marengo.

  3. Look up the corrected Joy recipe - the last publication misses the mushrooms, pearl onions, etc. It does look this way and is a fabulous dish. I am making it today on our sailboat in Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas!

  4. Your description of your interaction with the recipe was 2-funny.
    I had a good laugh. Thank you.


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