Pollo Marengo alla Bonaparte

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alla Bonaparte

They say the dish is French. Some say it’s Italian. Well, the dish was created by a French Chef in Italy. In Marengo, Italy in Piedmont in fact. And for none other than Napoleon Bonaparte after he defeated the Austrian Army at The Battle of Marengo. Legend has it, that Napoleon wasn’t in the habit of eating before battle. After Napoleon’s Army defeated the Austrians at Marengo in 1800, Napoleon was famished. He was starving, and he commanded his Chef to whip something up. Chef Dumand frantically foraged for ingredients to cook Napoleon’s meal. He came up with; chicken, eggs, garlic, crayfish, and a handful of tomatoes. He already had some wine. Dumand made the dish, and gave it to Napoleon. He loved it and commanded it served to him after every battle. The rest is history, so to speak.

Chicken Marengo is an wonderful dish that was pretty popular once-upon-a-time. Not anymore, but we don’t know why, it’s absolutely awesome! The original dish was made with crayfish which some people still use, but most use Shrimp instead, as we do here in our recipes. The dish does not call for mushrooms, but they are a nice addition if you like.

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Be aware that Chef Dumand after awhile tried to do this, and Napoleon went nuts. He would not have the dish change, as he felt it was bad like. Try this dish, we’re sure you’ll love it as General and later Emperor Napoleon did. “It’s a Winner!”


1 2 ½ pound Chicken, cut into 8 pieces

½ cup Flour

4 tablespoons Olive Oil, 1 Tbs. Butter

1 medium Onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves Garlic, peeled and sliced

¼ cup Sherry or Dry White Wine

½ teaspoon each of Salt & Black Pepper

4 whole Plum Tomatoes from a can

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon Tomato Paste

¼ teaspoon Nutmeg (optional)

4 to 8 large Shrimp, cleaned

4 large Eggs

¼ cup chopped Fresh Italian Parsley

Season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper, then dredge in flour. Shake off excess flour from chicken. Place Olive Oil in a large frying pan and turn the heat on high. Place chicken in pan and fry over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until the chicken pieces are nicely browned on all sides.

Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add onions to pan and cook over low heat for 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook over low heat 2 minutes.

Add Sherry or White Wine to pan and cook on high heat until the liquid is reduced by half. About 4 minutes. As you are cooking the wine, scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the brown bits on the bottom, which are full of flavor. Add tomatoes to pan and cook at high heat for 4 minutes. Break up the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon.

Add chicken back to pan. Add tomato paste, butter, water and nutmeg to pan. Mix. Cover pan, leaving lid slightly ajar. Cook on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Divide chicken equally on four plates. Put a breat and wing on two plates, and a leg & thigh on the other two plates. Pour pan juices over the chicken.

Cook the Shrimp in a pan with Olive Oil over medium heat, until the shrimp are cooked through and there is no rawness in the center. About 3 minutes. Place the shrimp in equal portions on plate with chicken.

Fry four eggs the pan you cooked the shrimp in, being careful not to break the yolk. Put one egg on each plate with chicken.

Sprinkle parsley over the chicken and shrimp but not the egg. Serve your guest and have a battle feast meal, just like Napoleon Bonaparte.


by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

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