Chicken Marengo is a classic French dish named after the Battle of Marengo, a victory for Napoleon’s French troops in 1800. This saucy one-pot dish is a tasty combination of chicken braised in tomatoes with white wine and just a few seasoning – simple, yet full of flavour. The authentic recipe is garnished with fried eggs and crayfish, but these are often omitted in modern recipes and substituted with mushrooms for a more affordable option.
The Story behind the dish
Legend has it, Chicken Marengo was a dish hurriedly invented by Napoleon’s cook from the simple ingredients he could get a hold of, following the French’s victory over Austrian forces in Marengo, in Northern Italy. The dish then won over the hearts of Parisians and became a symbol of French haute cuisine. Another version of history – slightly less theatrical – say this dish was more likely to have been invented in a French restaurant and named after the battle to add to its prestige.
No matter which version of the story you prefer, one thing is for sure: this dish is quick and simple, so tasty and will surely become a long-time favorite in your repertoire.
A simple version of Chicken Marengo, with Mushrooms.
In my version of it, you will find plump chicken thighs that I roll in flour before browning in a pan with butter. This preliminary step makes the skin crispy and adds a great layer of richness to the meat. The chicken thighs are then set aside, and you start building the sauce in that same pan from tomatoes, white wine and chicken stock. The chicken is then placed back into the pan, and braised in the sauce for a juicy, flavorful meat. The final addition of mushroom gives extra texture and flavor to the sauce.
This Simple Chicken Marengo is a tasty, saucy recipe to enjoy year-round. Serve it over white rice, pasta or green beans.
- You can remove the skin of the chicken thighs if you want a healthier version of this dish – although I think the skin lends a great amount of flavour to the sauce.
- To make it a year-round recipe, my version includes canned whole tomatoes. In the Summer, you can substitute fresh, ripe tomatoes (same weight/amount).
6 Chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Salt, pepper for seasoning
1/3 cup (42g) All-purpose Flour
2 tbsp (28.5g) Unsalted butter
2 tbsp (30ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
7 – 8 sprigs flat leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped
¾ cup (185ml) dry white wine
¾ cup (185ml) chicken stock
1 can [796ml/28fl oz] of whole tomatoes (about 12 plum tomatoes), diced in small cubes (keep the juice too).
16 cremini mushrooms (300g) (white or brown), sliced
Step 1 – Rinse the chicken thighs thoroughly and pat them dry all over with paper towel to remove any excess moisture; this will help ensure the skins gets a nice crispy skin when cooking. I like to allow the chicken to come close to room temperature before cooking.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the 1/3 cup of flour (42g) in a shallow plate and roll each chicken thigh in flour to cover evenly.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the flour covered chicken thighs and cook for 7-8 minutes on each side, until the skin is crisp and golden. Transfer the thighs to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Step 2 – Add the EVOO to the same frying pan, along with the diced onion, garlic and parsley. Cook for 2-3 minutes, still over medium heat and stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onion is translucent.
Step 3 – Add the white wine and chicken stock to the pan and scrape off any bits at the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon.
Step 4 – Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juice. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken pieces into the sauce, and turn the heat to medium-low (for a slow simmer). Simmer for 30 minutes (lid-off).
Step 5 – Stir in the mushrooms, and simmer for 10 more minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through. Taste the sauce, and adjust seasoning if needed.
Serve immediately over white rice or pasta.
If you try this Simple Chicken Marengo recipe let me know! Leave a comment or share a photo using #pardonyourfrench on Instagram. Bon Appétit!