Tag Archives: Sicilian braised potatoes with Saffron

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.