Gallina col Mirto

Chicken Steeped in Myrtle


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

Using myrtle as a flavouring is common throughout the whole of Sardinian cuisine. It is a plant that produces small purple berries, which are harvested from November to January, and has fragrant leaves that are used in the preparation of many savoury meat and fish dishes. Myrtle is also made into the island’s favourite liqueur, mirto. It may be difficult to get hold of outside of Sardinia, so try specialist Italian food stores. You will need a heatproof lidded container, such as a casserole or chicken brick.


  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 1 large carrot, halved
  • 1 large celery stick, halved
  • a small bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 medium oven-ready chicken, about 2.5 kg/5 ½ lb
  • a large bunch of myrtle
  • sea salt


  1. Put the onion in a deep pan with the carrot, celery and parsley, and cover with water. Season with salt. Cover and bring to the boil.

  2. Once the stock is boiling, add the chicken. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours, or until the chicken is cooked through.

  3. Line a large casserole or chicken brick with myrtle.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer it to the container. Cover the chicken with more myrtle, put the lid on the top and leave the chicken to steam, off the heat, absorbing the flavour of the myrtle.
  5. Leave the chicken in the myrtle-lined container until the next day, then remove it from the casserole, carve the meat and serve cold.