(click to enlarge)

Chicken Marengo
  -   Poulet Marengo
6 main  
1-3/4 hrs  
According to some of the best writers it can't be Chicken Marengo without toast and fried eggs for serving. Inclusion of crayfish tails is more controversial. Today all these rules are widely violated - at worst no crayfish, no toast, no fried egg and served on rice or noodles. See Note-6 for the story and Note-5 for serving suggestions.



Chicken (1)
Rice flour (2)
Olive Oil
Brandy (3)
Crayfish or (4)
Diced Tomatoes
Stock, Chicken
White Wine
Thyme sprig
-- Serve With
Fried Egg (5)
Prep   -   (45 min)
  1. Cut CHICKEN into largish bite-size pieces. If using whole bone-in joints, cut the large ones into two pieces. A razor sharp Chinese cleaver knife and soft faced mallet are perfect for this.
  2. Lightly powder the Chicken pieces with Rice Flour - emphasis on "light". In a heavy iron skillet heat Olive Oil (Pure or Pomace, not Virgin) and fry chicken until lightly browned all over.
  3. Heat Brandy in a small pan, set it on fire and pour over the chicken. Remove the chicken to a bowl.
  4. Shell CRAYFISH TAILS (or whatever shellfish you're using, if any). Depending the intended serving style you may leave them whole or cut them into two or three pieces.
  5. Slice MUSHROOMS about 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Slice ONIONS fairly thin crosswise then chop medium.
  7. Crush GARLIC, slice and chop small.
  8. Chop PARSLEY.
Run   -   (55 min)
  1. Toast your Toast (if used).
  2. In a Coverable sauté pan heat Oil and fry Onions until translucent but not at all browned. About half way to that point stir in Garlic.
  3. Stir in White Wine, Stock and Tomatoes. bring to a simmer. Stir in Thyme, Parsley, Cayenne and Salt. Stir in Chicken and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in Mushrooms and simmer another 10 minutes.
  5. Taste for Salt, adjust liquid if needed and stir in Crayfish, bring back to a simmer for about a minute and turn off heat.
  6. Set a toast on a plate. Ladle chicken and sauce over the toast. Garnish with Crayfish (if left whole) and top with a fried egg.
  1. Chicken:   Weight is for skinless, boneless chicken. If you use whole, bone-in parts - thighs, legs, breasts and the main joint of wings, you'll need 2-1/4 pounds for the same amount of meat.
  2. Rice Flour:   The dusting you use for frying will also thicken the sauce. Rice flour, all purpose flour (browns more) and possibly cornstarch will work. Potato starch and tapioca starch don't work well here.
  3. Brandy:   Legend (see below) has it this was originally Cognac from Napoleon's own flask. Because I shop in West Yerevan (Glendale, CA) I use Armenian brandy.
  4. Crayfish:   Weight is for shell-on tails only. Crayfish are available from Asian markets in Los Angeles, live, cooked and frozen, from China, and live in Louisiana, but in most regions they're difficult to find, expensive, a pain to deal with and provide a very low yield for the dollar. Dione Lucas used lobster, but I'm not a top rank French chef so I go with shrimp. Some recipes as early as 1868 do not mention shellfish at all and they're more often than not omitted today. Black olives may take their place (use oil cured, not canned salad olives).
  5. Serving:   The fried egg (as in the photo) may be a bit of a logistics problem beyond 4 servings, though manageable and elegant for a late breakfast for two. For a modest size dinner party, if I wanted eggs, I'd make an omelet about 1/4 inch thick and cut it into strips with which to garnish the serving. For a crowd, serve it in a slow cooker with a basket of toast squares cut about 1 inch on a side and skip the eggs. If you're going with bone-in joints also cut your toast about 1 inch square and set at the side of the serving.
  6. The Story:   After winning the Battle of Marengo in Italy, Napoleon demanded dinner. His chef, Dunan, had only a few ingredients scavenged from the locals, primarily chicken, eggs, tomatoes, onions and crayfish. From this he assembled the original Chicken Marengo, served on soldier's biscuits with a fried egg over. Napoleon rather liked the dish, ordered it served after every battle and refused to allow any changes in the ingredients for fear it would change his luck.
    Alas, like so many great food stories, this one cannot be true. Dunan was not in Napoleon's employ until 5 years later (Larousse Gastronomique), and there's no recorded mention of the dish until almost 20 years after the battle. Unfortunately, since its actual origin and original recipe are not known, it's difficult to criticize any of the variants as "unauthentic".
  7. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
fmc_chkmareng1 090411 dlbfc373 & others   -
©Andrew Grygus - - Linking to and non-commercial use of this page is permitted.