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 is fabulous.

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 and preferably with Fregola
* Fregula or Fregolona is uniquely Sardinian. It is a type of pasta/couscous from Sardinia and is similar to North African Berkoukes, Middle Eastern Moghrabieh, and Israeli couscous.It is also lightly toasted.

My recipe was published in the following  publication:

Planet to Plate: The Earth Hour Cookbook is a collection of 52 amazing recipes from Australia’s biggest culinary names.

March 2015

In 2015 WWF, Earth Hour is about celebrating Australian food and farming.

It is a collection of the very best recipes from the country’s top chefs; Planet to Plate is full of information on how global warming is already affecting produce we enjoy in our everyday lives including fresh vegetables, cereals, bread and fruit.

Planet to Plate uniquely and beautifully incorporates first-hand stories from Australian farmers highlighting the impact global warming is having on their farms and the nation’s availability of fresh, homegrown food.

See: EARTH HOUR, Planet to Plate: The Earth Hour Cookbook 2015


OLIVE FRITTE (Lighly fried, fresh black olives)

I first made Olive Fritte (fried olives) after I bought The Taste of Italy in 1984. Bugialli became a big hit in Australia and I still have several of his books.


These are ripe, fresh olives (not pickled) that are sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, course- grained salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Bugialli’s recipe: 1 pound of black olives, 2tbs olive oil, ½ tbsp of the salt and a pinch of pepper and sautéed gently for 15 minutes).

South Australia is blessed with wild oIive trees. I was living in Adelaide at that time and you could handpick the olives you wanted according to the degree of maturity, the range of shapes and sizes – and all for free.

Even then I had adventurous friends who were willing to try anything I cooked and those who sampled these were wary at first, but quickly adjusted and enjoyed the fresh slightly bitter taste of the olives. They continued eating them and took more. At the time, I also added fresh bay leaves.

Recently two of my friends brought me a small bag of olives as a gift. They had visited two other friends at Rocky Passes, a boutique winery at the southern end of the Strathbogie Ranges in the Upper Goulburn wine growing region of Victoria. These two friends produce award winning red wines and In their kitchen garden there are some olive trees. This is where these olives (in the photo) came from.

This time when I sautéed them fresh, I added fennel seeds and deglazed the pan with some good quality red wine vinegar. I presented them on two separate occasions to different guests and once again watched them tentatively put the first olive in their mouths, the incredulous expressions on their faces (should I be eating these??) and then the enjoyment of savouring something bitter but at the same time with a hint of sweetness (Campari?). I ensured them that bitter food is good for the liver so we drank some more wine.

Use low heat and sauté 2 cups of unblemished, black, ripe olives in ½ cup cup of extra virgin olive oil. Add ½ teaspoon of salt flakes and ½ tsp of fennel seeds. Cook for about 15 minutes stir frequently. Add 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar and deglaze the pan.
Sprinkle with some fresh fennel fronds (optional)
Serve warm.

There are a number of recipes for pickling olives and that use olives on the blog.


%d bloggers like this: