Chicken in White Garlic Sauce

Kotopoulo Maskouli

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This delicious recipe, given to me by my friend Maria Papadina, comes from Kastoria in Macedonia. Similar recipes can be found in different parts of Greece, in the Peloponnese, and even on the island of Mytilini (Lesbos), where it is called maskoulo, or skordalevria. Food writer Paula Wolfert told me that Maskouli is similar to Circassian chicken, a dish that developed in the Caucasus, but unlike Circassian chicken, Maskouli is eaten hot and not cold. (Walnuts and almonds were used by the Persians to thicken sauces.)

Chicken is not the only meat we find cooked this way. In Thrace, it is made with goose, and in the Peloponnese I came across rabbit maskouli. I have been told that hare cooked in white wine with this creamy garlic sauce is also delicious.

In Ioannina, the capital of Epirus, in the northwest, I came across crayfish in a similar garlic and walnut sauce, while in other parts of the country squash slices are baked in garlic and walnut sauce.

Serve with rice or egg noodles.

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Ingredients

  • 1 free-range chicken (about 3 pounds), cut into serving pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Flour, for dredging
  • Oil, for frying
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • ½ cup coarsely crushed almonds

Method

Place the chicken in a pan and cover with water. Add the bay leaf, onion, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender but firm.

Remove the chicken pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon, pass the stock through a fine sieve, and skim off and discard as much fat as possible. Measure the stock; you should have about 3 cups. If it is more, reduce it over high heat. If it is less, add a little water.

Heat some olive oil in a deep skillet. Lightly dredge the chicken with flour and fry until golden brown on all sides. Transfer the fried pieces to paper towels and keep warm.

Discard the frying oil from the skillet and wipe with paper towels. Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat, and whisk in the 3 tablespoons of flour. Continue whisking for about 1 minute, until it begins to froth.

Remove from the heat and add the garlic, reserved stock, wine, vinegar, and walnuts, whisking constantly. Return to the stove and continue whisking over medium heat until the sauce begins to thicken. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Arrange the chicken on a heated plate, and pour the sauce over it. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve immediately.

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