To the victors go the spoils, and in the case of Napoleon Bonparte, those spoils added up to a battlefield feast after his French forces triumphed in Piedmont, Italy, at the Battle of Marengo in 1800.
More than two centuries later, his great-great-grandniece, Zenaide Giunta, serves up the decadent meal, Chicken Marengo, at her Le Torri di Bagnara castle in Italy’s Umbria region.
“The Emperor was not a big fan of fine cuisine; his meals were really frugal and he didn’t like to linger at the table,” Giunta said through a spokesperson.
However, the victory over the Austrian troops led his chef, Dunand, to pluck ingredients from local farms, she said, and it became her infamous ancestor’s plate of choice after each subsequent success.
If you can’t make it to Giunta’s luxury castle, which is available for rent, here are the ingredients and preparation. But try to avoid meeting your own culinary Waterloo.
1 chicken cut into pieces
Dozen Shrimp, tails on
Flour for dusting chicken
Juice of one lemon
1 c dry white wine
2 cups diced tomatoes
Fresh Parsley, chopped
8-10 sliced mushrooms
4-6 Fresh Eggs
Loaf of Rustic Bread cut in thick slices
salt and pepper
To prepare: Take a chicken, cut it in pieces, dust pieces with flour and put them in a pan to fry with abundant olive oil. Add chopped mushrooms, salt and pepper. When the meat is browned, add the tomatoes (diced), shrimp (previously blanched in white wine), chopped parsley and lemon juice. Continue cooking. In two different pans fry some slices of bread (equal to the number of diners) in olive oil. To serve the Chicken Marengo, place the bread in the middle of the plate, with fried eggs on top and surround with the meat pieces and sauce.