Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chicken Marengo


Chicken Marengo is one of my all time favorite French recipes, dating from when I first learned to cook as a new bride. This recipe is from my first cookbook, With a Jug of Wine by Morrison Wood. Morrison Wood wrote a newspaper column called “For Men Only!” which appeared weekly in the Chicago Daily Tribune and other newspapers. Not only do his recipes endear me to the book, but his stories that introduce the recipes are delightful entertaining and you feel he’s right there in the kitchen with you.

With a Jug of Wine was first published in 1949 and the recipes, some with a French flair. Among the recipes are Boeuf Bourguignon, Boeuf de Daube, Cassoulet, File of Sole Normande, Lobster Thermidor, Cocquille le Sainte Jacques, Partridges a la Chausser, and Shrimp De Jonghe from a famous Chicago restaurant by the same name (a Hoffer family favorite going way back) weren’t widely available to the home cook. Morrison Wood was far ahead of his time. Remember, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking wasn’t published until 1961. I find Morrison Wood’s recipes to be every bit as reliable as Julia Child and Ina Garten.

I’m not the only one who loves Morrison Wood. My friend Barbara of Movable Feasts recently touted With a Jug of Wine and featured Morrison Wood’s chili, link here, which I also agree is some very fine chili. Long out of print, copies of the cookbook can be found from time to time at Amazon and from other internet sources.



The wonderful history of Chicken Marengo alone is enough reason to serve it at a dinner party. A great conversation starter at the table is to tell your guests about its colorful history. Napoleon’s chef was a man named Durand. According to legend, when Napoleon defeated the Austrians on the battlefield near the village of Marengo in northwest Italy in June of 1800, Durand created the dish Chicken Marengo. The supply trains hadn’t been able to keep up with the troops, so there wasn’t anything with which to make dinner for the temperamental Napoleon. Durand decided to send some of his men into the countryside to find provisions for a celebration dinner. On a nearby farm they found chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, olive oil and garlic.

There are dozens of stories about the creation of the actual dish. Some say it was garnished with crayfish and fried eggs; others insist it included olives, anchovies, and Italian Prosciutto, which would make it Chicken a la Provençale. Several years ago I did a post on Chicken Marengo and combined Chicken Marengo with Chicken a la Provençale, link here. Today I’ve gone back to Morrison Wood’s original Chicken Marengo.  I took the liberty to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but it’s equally delicious with a cut up whole chicken, as the original recipe called for. I urge you to give it a try. It’s simple to make and is always a hit. I like to serve it with my mother’s rice, recipe here, and green beans with toasted almonds. It's interesting that several years ago Cooking Light magazine had an article on how to perfectly cook rice and it was exactly the same method as my moms.



Chicken Marengo
Le Poulet Marengo
Slightly adapted from “With a Jug of Wine” by Morrison Wood, serves 4
Printable Recipe

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or a whole cut up chicken
Flour for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
4 small white onions, peeled & chopped
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 ½ cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced parsley
4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced (canned, crushed first, are fine, including their juices)
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon flour
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Remove any excess skin from the chicken, then salt and pepper them and dust lightly with flour. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil, and sauté the chicken until golden brown, turning frequently so all of the pieces are done evenly. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm.

In the same skillet, put chopped onions, garlic, mushrooms, parsley, and more olive oil if necessary. Cook this mixture until the mushrooms are tender, then add the tomatoes and their juices, dry white wine, brandy, tomato paste and 1 tablespoons flour. Mix and blend the ingredients well and allow to simmer over a medium flame for about 10 minutes. Now put the chicken in the sauce, cover the pan, and simmer until the chicken is completely tender, about 15 to 20 minutes for boneless, skinless breasts and 30 minutes or so for a whole cut up chicken. Serve with the sauce and garnish with chopped parsley. Fluffy rice, seasoned with finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and a pat of butter, makes a nice accompaniment.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Food on Friday at Carole's Chatter and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.
Have a great weekend everyone.

40 comments:

  1. A flavourful and delicious dish!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. The whole meal looks amazing Sam and I'm smitten with how pretty the rice is! I might just declare 2015 the year of fresh herbs:@)
    PS-A customer gave me a bottle of a Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon mix... While I do plan on enjoying a couple glasses, I'd like to make a long cooking *something* (chicken, cow or pig) on a nice snowy Saturday... Any ideas?

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    1. Lynn, congratulations on receiving some great wines. What a nice gift. Here are some of my favorites that are ideal for a nice snowy day - Ina's Coq au Vin, Cassoulet, the longer version, Short Ribs, Ina's Beef Bourguignon, and Beef Daube, the one from 2010. Stay warm and enjoy your Saturday.
      Sam

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  3. I enjoy discovering the history of a dish Sam. It goes back to cucina povera where you use what you have to create tasty and delicious meals.

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  4. I expect Napoleon was quite impressed with this dish. I have made it before (Silver Palate I think) and we liked it a lot. I'm happy to be introduced to Morrison Wood's version. A beautiful plating!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  5. Sounds and looks good..I had noted Barbara's chili too..Sounds like a winner cookbook Sam.

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  6. Looks delicious Sam. I haven't made this in ages. Will have to find a copy of Morrison Woods cookbook. Love your molded rice and green beans too.

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  7. Looks wonderful Sam! I have never heard of this recipe before!

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  8. What a great name for a cookbook! I'd have to check, but I think I've made Chicken Marengo and it was from Dairy Hollow House cookbook. A bed and breakfast from Eureka Springs Arkansas. Have you heard of that book? It's a good one too.

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  9. I loved your post! It is always fun to read the history behind a recipe and to read about another cook's favorite cookbooks! The Chicken Marengo looks wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. I don't know which appeals to me more, the sound of the recipe or your presentation of it - the entire plate for that fact. What did you put in the rice - the green stuff.

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    1. Hi Larry,
      Thanks for the compliment on the presentation. That's finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley added to the rice after it was cooked, along with a pat of butter.
      Sam

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  11. Sam, Yet another beautiful looking entree! Laurie would love this meal... To echo Big Dude, your presentation is always superior! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

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  12. That whole plate looks so scrumptious Sam, beautiful dish.

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  13. This looks like my kind of meal, Sam! Any chicken dish cooked with a cup of white wine and a little brandy must be delicious :) Isn't it interesting how some of the older cookbooks have recipes we still love today. Certainly a healthy meal too. I'll have to look for a copy of this cookbook. After your post and Barbara's it must be a wonderful resource.

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  14. I will search for that book! the chicken looks wonderful - great flavors - love that it has brandy in it!
    Mary

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  15. Looks delicious Sam. An upscale restaurant could not have done better. Pinning.

    M.

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  16. I love knowing the pedigree of a dish, as much as I like winging it! Napolean, huh? It does look stunning.

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  17. A very delicious meal, Sam. I love chicken breast, but usually prepare them in a really simple way. Going to try this soon. That parsley rice looks fantastic too.

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  18. This looks beautiful, Sam, and the sauce sounds very flavorful. I like to add a few anchovies into the mix as I like the flavor they give.

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  19. Between us, we may be bringing some business to Amazon's used book dept.! And worth it too, as Morrison's book is divine. I love his key lime pie and don't know why I've never posted a crab dish of his we all love. I could go on and on and here you have another fabulous Wood recipe. What a super presentation too, Sam. I love these older cookbooks...will have to look into Lea Ann's Dairy Hollow House cookbook as well.

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  20. This is one gorgeous dish! The chicken looks so moist and tender, the colors are bright - not overcooked. I cannot imagine how good this must taste! The green beans and rice look wonderful too!

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  21. This looks wonderful and I love the history behind it :)

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  22. Dear Sam, I think cookbooks with good memories attached always turn out good food! This is a wonderful dish.
    I hope you have a good weekend and enjoy. xoxo Catherine

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  23. As always, the presentation is colorful and beautiful. It looks simple, yet elegant.

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  24. This sounds delightful and how did I not know about it before living in France! Bookmarked with thanks. Keep well Diane

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  25. Like you, I learned this recipe as a young bride. And we've enjoyed it often ever since. But I didn't know the story behind it. Interesting.

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  26. Thanks for the introduction to this fabulous book & if two of my favorite Bloggers love it then I have to have it - just bought a copy on Amazon! I bet this recipe would be delicious with a Cru Beaujolais of Cotes du Rhone - can't wait to try it ~ Cheers:)

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  27. Boy oh boy I swear I cooked this when I was young, in the 80s. Did Pierre Franey include it in one of his books?

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    1. You have a good memory Lisa. Yes, Chicken a la Provencale was in one of Pierre's cookbooks and very much based on Marengo. The first time I posted this dish several years ago, I combined Morrison Wood's version with Pierre Franey's. Pierre's had olives, prosciutto and anchovies. Each are fabulous recipes and both men had a big influence on my cooking style.
      Sam

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  28. Sounds like a delightful dinner, I can see why everyone (including Napoleon) loves it!

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  29. Interesting about Durand and Napoleon, Sam! This chicken dish would be delicious and make anyone happy. I bet it was a hit for sure when you served this during your newlywed days! Thanks for Morrison Wood's version!

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  30. Sam, the colors pop in this dish. The history makes the dish even more lively. I am thinking the "Jug of Wine" may be added to my cookbook list.
    Take care.
    Velva

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  31. always lokoing for a great chicken dish to keep in my book. You can never get enough of chicken. It is so versatile. It looks amazing and that cookbook sounds great to

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  32. Sam this chicken sounds wonderful! I would like to try this recipe, and check out that cookbook as well. Thanks Sam!

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  33. This chicken sounds and looks delicious...this is such a beautiful meal Sam...thanks for the recipe.
    Hope you are enjoying your week :)

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  34. This looks delish, and I LOVE what you did with the rice! <3 - www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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  35. Hi Sam,
    This looks awesome! Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing your talent with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  36. I didn't realize this was your post when I first clicked on it and I thought to myself, "I wonder if it will sound as good as Sam's chicken marengo" because I still remember that post.

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