Chicken Marengo

Below is a small article about a dish that was created in the early 19th century called Chicken Marengo. The dish is associated with a battle fought during the Napoleonic Wars: CHICKEN MARENGO

Chicken Marengo is a dish that is surrounded by a great deal of myth. The dish consisted of a chicken sautéed in oil with garlic and tomato, and garnished with fried eggs and crayfish. It is similar to Chicken à la Provençale, but with the addition of egg and crayfish. The latter ingredients are traditional to Chicken Marengo, but are now often omitted. The original dish was named to celebrate the Battle of Marengo, a Napoleonic victory that was fought on June 14, 1800.

According to popular myth, Chicken Marengo was first created after Napoleon Bonaparte defeated the Austrian army at the Battle of Marengo, south of Turin, Italy. His personal chef Dunand foraged in the town of Marengo for ingredients, because the supply wagons were too distant. Dunand created the dish from what he could gather. According to this story, Napoleon enjoyed the dish so much he had it served to him after every battle. When Durand received better supplies, later on; he substituted mushrooms for crayfish and added wine to the recipe. Napoleon refused to accept it, believing that a change would bring him bad luck.

This colorful story, however, has been proven to be a myth. Alan Davidson writes that there would be no access to tomatoes at that time, and the first published recipe for the dish omits them. Also, according to The Old Foodie blog, Dunand did not become Napoleon’s chef until after the event. And the dish was not mentioned in contemporary accounts or cookbooks until nearly two decades later.

Below is a recipe for “Chicken Marengo” from the website:

Chicken Marengo


4 (6-ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large portabella mushrooms, stems and gills discarded and caps thinly sliced
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup beef or veal demi-glace*
1/2 cup water


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Pat chicken dry, then combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large sealable plastic bag and add chicken. Seal bag and shake to coat, then remove chicken, knocking off excess flour. Arrange in one layer on a plate.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chicken, smooth sides down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over and sauté one minute more. Scatter mushrooms around chicken and transfer skillet to oven, then bake, uncovered, until chicken is just cooked through, five to ten minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate, then add shallot, garlic, and thyme to skillet (handle will be hot) and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, one minute. Add wine and boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, demi-glace, and water and simmer until mushrooms are tender and sauce is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Season with pepper.

Return chicken to skillet and simmer, turning, about one minute.


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