It is named after one of Napoleon’s victories. What’s in a name, right?
So big of the little King to have immortalized such delicious dishes, the other being his eponymous pastry: All these armies were not decimated in vain… The trademarks of Chicken Marengo must all be present: Red wine, tomatoes, tiny onions and mushrooms.
Chicken Marengo Trademarks
I use portobello mushrooms, and tiny frozen cocktail onions: they are perfect in this recipe and save you a lot of peeling time. The tomatoes thicken this sauce naturally and deliciously. Likewise, when making Chicken Marengo, I use a combination of thyme and rosemary as often as I do the traditional basil. I am including both options, both wonderful. Makes 8 servings.
My secret for making Chicken Marengo, and all stovetop dishes for that matter, is a heavy broad bottom stainless steel or enamel pot. With the perfect size and shape pot, I never preoccupy myself with searing or sauteing anything. All aboard, and you end up with a fantastic dish.
In this recipe I have used only chicken breasts, so I (and you) can give chicken breast a chance, and see how wonderfully moist they are when properly cooked. But of course you can use dark pieces (about 8 thighs and 8 drumsticks, skin and bones on); in this case omit the oil, and cook the dish 1 hour.
The dish is delicious made with beef too. No chicken. Use 4 pounds beef shoulder, cut into 2 inch dice. Cook the beef cubes in 5-6 cups water 2 1/4 hours on a medium flame, then proceed with the chicken marengo recipe from its beginning, using beef (just to be clear: total cooking time for the beef: 3 hours. 2 1/4 hours by itself in water, plus 45 minutes with the rest of the ingredients.
- 6 whole chicken breasts, bones out, skin on
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 large tomatoes, diced (settle for a 3-cup can crushed tomatoes
- 1 bottle dry red wine (liquor stores)
- 1½ pounds portobello mushrooms, quartered
- 1-pound package frozen tiny onions
- 6 sprigs thyme fresh thyme and 3 sprigs rosemary (you can also use 1 cup basil leaves, cut in ribbons; in this case add the basil leaves toward the end of cooking
- freshly ground pepper to taste
Stir all ingredients thoroughly but gently so as not to bruise the chicken breasts in a heavy broad bottom pot, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the flamer to medium, and cook covered 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken and vegetables onto a platter with a slotted spoon. Slice the chicken breasts crosswise, about 1/2 inch thick. If the liquid in the pot is too thin, reduce over high heat for just a couple of minutes until thickened. Pour over the chicken. Serve the Chicken Marengo hot, with noodles, baby potatoes, rice or vegetable puree.