Monday, February 22, 2010

Chicken in Citrus Sauce

Feb. 2010 171 The real name of this dish is “Faraona Del Vicariato Di Quistello” or “Guinea Hen from the Vicar of Quistello.” Apparently, the vicar of Quistello ate rather well, if this dish is any indication. It’s a classic dish that’s still prepared today at  L’Ambasciata, a two-star Michelin-rated restaurant in the Northern Italian town of Quistello.

I ate it at my cousin Cesare’s home in Milan during my recent trip to Italy. His companion Erminia, who hails from Mantova, a city near Quistello,  prepared it for us using an actual faraona, or guinea hen. They’re not hard to find in markets throughout Italy, but I wasn’t able to find one over the weekend when I made this recipe.  I used a small free-range, organic chicken instead and it worked well, but if you can find it, a guinea hen will give you more dark meat and a richer flavor.


The dish is traditionally served with mostarda, a condiment that’s used a lot in Mantova and other places in Northern Italy. The most famous mostarda comes from the lovely city of Cremona, the same place where Stradivarius built his violins in the 17th and early 18th century.

Feb. 2010 168 At first sight, mostarda looks like a sweet fruit confection. At first bite, however, you’d be fooled. It starts out with candied fruits – everything from pears and peaches to cherries to figs, but mustard oil is added too, giving it a real kick. Some mostarda can be fairly mild, but others can set your nostrils flaring. It’s most commonly eaten with bollito misto, a boiled meats dish, but is also delicious with hard cheeses and as an accompaniment to the recipe here. 

Feb. 2010 172 The traditional recipe also calls for you to sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top, but they’re a little out of season right now and I couldn’t find them. The dish didn’t suffer without them, but they would add more color if they’re available. Brown food does not make the most attractive photograph.

Erminia served hers with a first course of risotto alla Milanese, one of my all-time favorites. 

Erminia's risotto

Here at home I served mine American style, with a side dish of pasta as the starch.

Feb. 2010 174

As a side note, I’m posting a photo of the beautiful Gothic duomo in Milan, now that the scaffolding has finally come down. Look closely above the doorway and you’ll see a statue that looks suspiciously like the Statue of Liberty in New York City’s harbor. Could the French sculptor Bertholdi have stolen this idea from duomo of Milan?

Lastly, here’s a fun thing going on in Milan right now. As soon as you exit the subway at the Duomo station, the stairs are like piano keys – You can make music just by walking up and down the stairs! Click on this Youtube video and you hear a bunch of young people stepping to the notes of Pachelbel’s Canon. You’ll have to click once here at the triangle and then again when it prompts you to go to YouTube. It’s worth it.

And don’t forget to enter the contest to win a new baby book called “ABC Italiano.” The contest is still open so go to my post about it and leave a comment there.  The contest is sponsored by Joe of Italyville and will be closed after he receives 50 comments. So hurry and leave a comment on my blog, and on his too. Click here for my post and here for Joe’s.


And here’s the recipe:

La Faraona del Vicariato di Quistello con uva, arance e mostarda di pere e melograno.

Or “The Vicar of Quistello’s guinea hen with raisins, oranges and pear mostarda and pomegranate” – whew, that’s a mouthful – how about just Chicken in Citrus Sauce

printable recipe here

Fill a large pot with enough water to cover a chicken and bring water to a boil. Add 1 t. salt, a carrot, a stalk of celery and an onion. Place the chicken into the pot and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (It should be only partly cooked when you remove it.)

In the meantime, melt the butter in a large pan. Add the oil, the shallot and the raisins and saute for a few moments. Add the chicken, cut into quarters and saute until golden. Add salt and the juice of three oranges and a lemon. Continue to cook for 25 to 30 minutes.

Near the end of the cooking, turn off the flame and remove the chicken to a warm platter, decorating with slices of orange and pomegranate seeds.

To the pan, add 1/4 cup sweet white wine, such as a moscato, swirl it around for a few minutes, then pour over the chicken.

La Faraona del Vicariato di Quistello con uva, arance e mostarda di pere e melograno.

Specialità del Ristorante di Quistello (Mn): "L'Ambasciata"

Ingredienti (per quattro persone): 1 faraona giovane, 4 arance (tenerne una per la decorazione), 1 limone, 1 scalogno, 80 grammi di uva sultanina, 1 melograno, 50 grammi di burro ammorbidito, sale ed olio quanto basta. Per il brodo: 1 carota, 1 gambo di sedano (piccolo), 1 cipollina, sale ed olio q.b.


  • Pulire la faraona da eventuali piume e interiora
  • Immetterla in una pentola dove sarà messa acqua in quantità sufficiente a coprirla
  • Aggiungere una presa di sale, una carota, il sedano e la cipolla
  • Far cuocere per 10/15 minuti (la faraona deve essere poco cotta)

Nel frattempo avete mondato e tritato lo scalogno

  • In una casseruola far sciogliere il burro, aggiungere l'olio, lo scalogno e l'uva sultanina
  • Lasciare appassire un momento il tutto
  • Aggiungere, quindi, la faraona tagliata in quarti
  • Fare rosolare
  • Salare ed aggiungere il succo di 3 arance e il limone
  • Continuare la cottura per 25/30 minuti

A cottura ultimata, spento il fuoco, adagiare la faraona su di un piatto di portata caldo e decorare con fettine di arancia e melograno sgranato.

Irrorare con vino bianco, preferibilmente dolce (Passito o Moscato di Pantelleria)


  1. This looks absolutely delicious!
    I am hungry now as I sit with my first cup of coffee...looks like a wonderful, comforting dish...

  2. This dish looks wonderful.With all those candied fruits and the mustard flavor..I'm sure it packs a punch!

  3. A recipe after my own heart.. this dish looks so delicious!

  4. What a nice recipe.
    I love the raisins and orange sauce with the shallots.
    I think I will give this a whirl.

  5. You're right about the statue, sure does look familiar. I never tried this mostarda but I know I'd love it cuz it has a kick as you said. Your dish looks beautiful set out on that gorgeous platter!

  6. Ciao Linda buona settimana, molto interesante questo post, ho molto gradito la ricetta della faraona.
    Ciao Daniela.

  7. Great dish, my mouth is watering!! CHicken dishes are always my favorite!

  8. One lack in the markets here is the abundance and array of wild game, including fowl. Europe again wins in this aspect.

    I love how you're showing some delicious Italian dishes that perhaps "flew under the rader".

  9. I'm salivating; it looks so delicious with a tasty blend of ingredients! Great photos!

  10. Mostarda reminds me of chutneys.. Everything looks fabulous.. The chicken in citrus sauce would be one of my favorites.. although that risotto is calling out to me! :)

  11. Oh this looks lovely, and I absolutely love chicken dishes that have sweet touches...especially raisins!

  12. I am in citrus mode so this is perfect. I would love to try mostarde - have been reading a lot about bollito misto. I know this is in my future. Beautiful dish!

    I would get my exercise going up and down stairs if it meant listening to Pachelbel's Canon!

  13. The chicken dish looks amazingly delicious! Great photots!

  14. I'm delighted to hear Pachielbel's Canon played with one's feet. Lovely.

  15. Great pictures...this dish looks amazing! in my house, the more ways to cook chicken, the better

  16. I wonder if the condiment you describe (and that looks so beautiful in color and shine) has any relation to chutney. Citrus is perfect with poultry and this looks divine. The recipe looks pretty simple too, a plus in a hectic week. Thanks for posting all these inspiring pieces about your trip.

  17. This is stunning and I loved reading about the mustarda. I can imagine the citrus sauce was a perfect compliment to the chicken. I am always looking for a new chicken recipe.

  18. Oh my goodness, this looks fabulous! Like, Linda, I'm hungry and it is early for me here, too!

  19. I am such a novice when it comes to Northern Italian food but I love the variations of flavors and the use of game. This dish sounds delicious!

    I think the cathedral of Milan is one of the most beautiful in the world, both outside and inside. Were you able to see an opera at La Scala? The last time we visited the current opera was sold out but we were able to hear the rehearsal! It was sublime!

  20. Came back to say I enjoyed the piano steps video! :-)

  21. I love, love, love your post, Linda. I've been in the duomo in Milan and remember the incredible view from a walkway at one of the highest point of the cathedral.

    I'm going to visit my daughter in Chicago in April and we will go to a fantastic Italian grocery there. Maybe I can find mostarda, and many other goodies too.

  22. I used to live by someone who had Guinea Hens. Those little suckers used to come into my yard and leave their calling cards. Little did I know, then, I could have made your recipe. Chicken and orange? Oh, yeah. I drooled over the creamy. Terrific recipe.