Pollo in Carpione – Soused Chicken Breast
Summer is in full swing, and so is our longing for light and refreshing food, with half of the world population – so to speak – under extreme heat warning.
One recipe that is ideal for summer is “Pollo in Carpione” which I figured out should be translated as “soused chicken”. Please correct me if I’m wrong after reading what it is about!
It is an extremely old recipe, that some argue dates to the time of the Ancient Romans. Which would make completely sense: it is a way of preserving food by submerging it in a (slightly sweet) sour marinade, based on wine vinegar. Vinegar, with its high acidity, creates an inhospitable environment for microorganisms and bacteria that cause food spoilage, preventing them from growing and reproducing.
For sure it came in very handy when no refrigerators were around. In any case, even if it were not the Ancient Romans who created this recipe, the process was widely used in Italy during the Middle Ages and until our days: pickling is based on the same principles.
The name “carpione” comes from the fish carp (carpa in Italian), which was originally used for the recipe. The vinegar also had the advantage to cover up the slightly muddy taste typical of this sweet water fish. But the recipe can be adapted with astonishing results to a variety of foods: not only chicken breast, like we will be exploring today, but also vegetables, like zucchini, and even eggs.
From a nutritional point of view, natural, raw, and unpasteurized wine or apple vinegar is a source of polyphenols, antioxidants that help support disease prevention by neutralizing free radicals. It must be consumed in small quantities though, as it might irritate the digestive system and have other non-desirable effects.
Chicken in Carpione is a wonderful preparation to make in advance, and ideal to consume in an outside setting – I brought it as a picnic item to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl the other day!
For 4 Servings
12 chicken tenders
3/4 cup flour
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 or 4 shallots, Julienne cut
2 carrots, Julienne cut
2 fresh bay leaves
3-4 fresh sage leaves
½ cup white wine
½ cup vinegar – white wine or apple
2 tablespoons honey
Extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper
1. Sautee’ the shallots in some EVOO in a nonstick pan for 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the carrots and sage, continue for 3-4 more minutes, until they start to caramelize.
3. Pour the white wine and let evaporate. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Mix the vinegar and sugar in a cup, add to the vegetables. Mix and set aside.
5. Remove the white tendon from the chicken tenderloins, remove the thin white skin. Rinse and pat dry.
6. Gently coat the chicken with flour, then dip it in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.
7. Pan-fry the chicken with extra virgin olive oil. Remove from the pan and arrange in a Pyrex. Pour the marinade on top.
8. Let it rest in the refrigerator overnight or longer.
9. Enjoy it cold or at room temperature!
A Few Notes:
- For a lighter and quicker version, you can also sauté the flour dredged chicken, skipping the breading step.
- Adjust the vinegar and honey quantities following your taste!
- Try this recipe with white fish or with vegetables like zucchini, cauliflower, beans, asparagus.
- The food is at its best after 24 hours of marinating in the fridge!
Elisabetta Ciardullo is the founder of Think Italian! Events. As Personal Chef she is an ambassador of the Italian cuisine and culture, bringing it into the private homes of Americans, as well as to many corporate clients in Los Angeles.