Chicken Marengo

Pollo alla Marengo

This is a dish created by one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s chefs, who cooked it on the camp stove on the battlefield at Marengo (near the town of Alessandria) for Napoleon and his generals when the fighting was over They were situated a long way from the supply wagon and therefore the ingredients were what the cook could collect from the immediate surrounding area.


  • 1 X 2½ lb (1.25 kg) chicken, jointed
  • 1 small glass plus 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons plain white flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb (450 g) canned tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
  • 5 basil leaves, tied together with white cotton
  • 1 glass plus 8 fl oz (250 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 oz (100 g) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 large uncooked prawns (optional)
  • 4 slices white bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon, strained


Wash the chicken joints and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Heat the small glass of oil in a wide, deep pan. Flour the chicken, season with salt and pepper and fry it in the oil until brown all over. After about 15 minutes add the tomatoes, basil and glass of wine to the cooking chicken. Then add the crushed garlic, sprinkle with a little salt, stir and cover. Cook for a further 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cover again and cook for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the 8 fl oz (250 ml) wine into a small saucepan, add 2 pinches of salt and heat to boiling point. Add the prawns, cook for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat the 4 tablespoons oil in a separate frying-pan and fry the bread in it until crisp and golden. Remove and set aside. Fry the eggs in the same frying-pan.

Scatter the chicken with the parsley, pour over the lemon juice and stir. Remove the chicken from the pan and arrange on a large, warmed platter. Surround with the mushrooms and put the fried bread around these. Put an egg on each slice of bread, then lay the cooked prawns on top of the eggs. Serve at once with Napoleonic flair!