Tag Archives: Fregola

POLLO AL GUAZZETTO (Sardinian Chicken braised with Saffron)

You may see a number of Italian recipes cooked al guazzetto. This is just another Italian style of cooking.

A little bit of Italian grammar here in case you are confused: you may be familiar with other Italian culinary terms like alla romana (cooking style originating in the region of Rome, ie Roman style) alla contadina or alla paesana (peasant style) or alla campagnola (rustic or country style) – The above words are all feminine words and therefore have alla in front.

Other common terms like al forno (cooked in the oven) or al vapore (steamed) – have al in front because they are masculine words.

Chicken legs with capers & saffron 2_

Al guazzetto means that it is cooked in some liquid. To confuse you even further in umido is also a culinary term that means the same thing (poached or simmered or braised). Perhaps in umido implies that it may be more slow cooked or that the liquid is significantly reduced – but perhaps I am being pedantic here.

There are many recipes for fish cooked al guazzetto and less so for meat – most contain tomatoes and broth to concentrate flavours. However, in Foods of Sicily and Sardinia and the Smaller Islands [Giuliano Bugialli, John Dominis] there is a recipe from Sardinia called Pollo o coniglio al guazzetto and this is the inspiration for the following recipe. I cooked pollo (chicken) rather than the coniglio (rabbit).


The recipe reminds me of a Sicilian way of cooking potatoes called Patati nno’ Tianu (Patate in tegame in Italian) that basically contains the same ingredients. In this recipe cubed potatoes (Italians would peel them, I do not) are placed in a heavy saucepan with a good lid. Add all of the other ingredients and cover with some water. Seal with the lid and let them cook slowly. They will absorb the water and be soft and fragrant.

The saffron in this braise does it for me.

1 chicken (I always buy free range) cleaned and cut into pieces
1 onion, sliced finely
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup of parsley, cut finely
1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 splash of wine
2 large pinches of saffron
1 tablespoon of capers
salt and pepper
Brown the chicken pieces in hot oil. Remove it and set aside.
Sauté the onion and garlic.
Add the chicken and parsley and sauté it for a few minutes longer.
Add vinegar , saffron and wine, capers and seasoning.
Add a few tablespoons of boiling water or more white wine as it is cooking if necessary,
Serve hot. Fregula or Fregolona is Sardinian and is very similar to large pellets of couscous.



RABBIT with cloves, cinnamon and red wine (CONIGLIO DA LICODIA EUBEA)



Rabbit for Easter?

I have cooked rabbit a few times lately – there seems to be plenty of it about. They are breeding like rabbits seems a very appropriate term, given the excellent breeding conditions for them in most of Australia – good rainfall and abundant vegetation of good nutritional value.

Where possible I buy wild rabbit. I like to think that helping to reduce the rabbit population is a good thing for the environment – wild rabbits have contributed to the extinction of many plant species and by their selective grazing they deplete the high-quality feed for some native species and livestock. The loss of vegetation also contributes to soil erosion.

I found a version of this recipe in Pino Correnti’s Il Libro D’oro della Cucina e dei Vini di Sicilia. As is often the case in Sicilian recipes, there is very little detail about the method of cooking and there are no quantities given, but the following combination works for me. The recipe is from Licodia Eubea, a small town in the province of Catania. It is close to Vizzini and not far from Caltagerone – all are north of Ragusa.

In this recipe the rabbit is marinated in red wine before cooking. If I am cooking a wild rabbit I marinate it overnight, if it is a farmed rabbit 3 hours are plenty.

I have cooked this rabbit several times and each time I have added more personal touches – whole mushrooms or whole onions, more spices. On one occasion I presented it with fregola – this is the Sardinian version of couscous that is common in Southern Sardinia around Cagliari. It is cooked like pasta in boiling, salted water for about 10 minutes and drained. (I am not sure that the Sicilians would approve, or the Sardinians for that matter.)

I use one rabbit to feed four people (usually weighs just below 1 kilo).



red wine, 1½ cups

cloves, 6-8

bay leaves, 4-6

garlic, 2 cloves, each cut into halves

cinnamon sticks, 1-2

extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup

salt and pepper to taste

tomato paste, 2 tablespoons, dissolved in a little water

rosemary sprigs, fresh 3-4

mint, fresh, 6-8 leaves

onions, whole,1-2 per person

Clean the rabbit and cut it into manageable sections at the joints.
Marinate it in the wine, some of the oil, bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves and turn it occasionally.
Remove the pieces of rabbit from the marinade and drain well. Keep the marinade with the bay, cinnamon and cloves for cooking.
Cut small slits into the flesh of the rabbit and insert the garlic into the slits (the recipe just lists garlic in the list of ingredients).
Add the rest of the extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the pieces until golden. Remove them and set aside.
Reduce the heat, add the whole onions to the oil and toss them around until golden.
Add salt and pepper, the diluted tomato paste, mint, rosemary, the wine marinade with the bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves (if you want to accentuate the taste of the aromatics you may wish to discard the old bay leaves and cloves in the marinade and add new ones).
Cover with a lid and simmer it gently until it is cooked (wild rabbit will take twice as long to cook as the farmed rabbit and you may need to add extra liquid).
Remove the lid and evaporate the juices if necessary.
I like to serve it with more fresh, mint leaves.