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!


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For 4 Servings

1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)