Pollo Al Sugo Con I ‘Rocchini’ – A wonderful dish from Pisa

This is one of those rustic, simple, delicious dishes made for sharing. Served with Parmesan, ciabatta or Tuscan bread and a red like a Sangiovese, you have a dish made in heaven! This recipe will serve 4-6 and you need to allow around 1 hour 20 minutes cooking time.


Pollo Al Sugo Con I ‘Rocchini’ (Chicken in sauce with rocchini)


3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 sprig flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 sprig thyme, finely chopped

1 sprig basil, finely chopped

1 x 1.5-2kg (3¼-4½lb) chicken, cut into pieces

175ml (¾ cup) red wine

1 tablespoon tomato pureé (paste) or 6 tomatoes (some unripe), peeled, seeded and diced

salt and pepper


For the rocchini

I head celery, coarse stalks removed

plain, all purpose flour, for dusting

2 eggs

vegetable oil. for deep frying

grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling



Heat the oil in the large, shallow pan. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, celery, parsley, thyme and basil and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the pieces of chicken, increase the heat to medium and cook, turning frequently, for 10-15 minutes, until evenly browned. Season with salt and pepper, pour in the wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. If using tomato paste, mix it with 175ml (¾ cup) warm water and stir it into the pan. If using fresh tomatoes, stir them into the pan. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Test by piercing the thickest part; if the juices run clear, the chicken is ready.

To make the rocchini. bring a pan of slated water to a boil and cut the tender celery stalks into 10cm (4″ ) lengths. Add the celery to the pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes, then drain and mash into a paste. Form into balls. Spread out the flour in a shallow dish and beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in another dish. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fryer to 180-190ºC/350-375ºF or until a cube of day-old bread browns in 30 seconds. Dip the celery paste balls first in the flour and then into the beaten egg. Add them to the hot oil, in batches and cook until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Transfer the chicken pieces to a warmed serving dish and add a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Add the rocchini to the remaining sauce and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Sprinkle with Parmesan, transfer to the serving dish and serve immediately.



(Thanks to Phaidon Press for permission to use the recipe and the photograph by Edward Park. This recipe is found on p.166 of Tuscany published by Phaidon – www.phaidon.com)



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