Pollo Fritto Artistico

Tonight is the first night of Chanukkah. I am repeating a Florentine Chanukkah recipe that I published quite a while ago. Happy Chanukkah – enjoy!

I have a long-standing love affair with Florence, Italy. It is my second favorite city in the world, after Yerushalayim, or course, and on par with my native Odessa. Listen to its name – Firenze! – and imagine walking, breathing, eating and drinking art.  You are literally walking on art because the streets are paved with stone tablets on which apprentice sculptors practiced their technique. Stone worksheets – and rather than throwing them away, prudent florentines found an artistic solution. Florence, the cradle of Renaissance, where Jews were invited, welcomed, and protected as savvy financial partners by Cosimo de Medici, the famous merchant prince who managed the papal finances.

cosimo_di_medici_bronzino

Since the 14th century, Jews in Florence linked their fortune to the House of Medici. When the fanatical monk Savonarola blamed the Jews for the plague epidemics – what’s new, right? – Medici’s protected the Jews. Conversely, when the Medici’s themselves got in trouble and had to give up their stronghold for a couple of decades, the Jews of Florence were also ordered to leave. They stayed, though, and loaned money to Florence, thus helping to bring the Medici family back.  A timely bribe in the right hands has always worked.

Cosimo’s grandson, Lorenzo Il Magnifico (the Magnificent), a famous humanist, art patron, a powerful leader, and the founder of Plato Academy, was probably the most influential figure in making Florence a living, breathing masterpiece of a city it has stayed up till today.

medici

Lorenzo and his Plato Academy had even stronger connections with Jews, benefiting from Jewish learning and  Torah values. One of the noted philosophers, Pico della Mirandola, even learned Hebrew, to be able to study the Jewish concept of creation of man. His thesis “On the Dignity of Man” is universally considered the Manifesto of Renaissance. There was even a rumor that he converted to Judaism after studying Kabbalah, but no proof was ever found. Incidentally, if you heard that the Medici’s themselves were Jewish, that has been confirmed… as not true.

Anyway, I am in love with Florence and everything Florentine. When Michelangelo was leaving Florence for the first time, he stopped on one of those hills of Tuscany overlooking this gem of the city, and he cried,”I don’t want to die outside of the sight of Duomo!” He did, unfortunately, die in Rome, but the Duomo is still there and is still breathtaking. It literally takes my breath away every time I catch a first glance of it when approaching the Piazza del Duomo.

Florence cathedral,Tuscany, ItalyThe Jews of Florence were grateful to the Medici’s. Jewish scholars and physicians were revered, and one of them, Yaakov Abrabanel, was instrumental in settling in Florence Jews from Spain and Portugal who were escaping from inquisition.

The Great Synagogue of Florence was built later, in 19th century, and the Rabbinical College established there. It is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful synagogues in the world. 80 different colors of marble,  found in the hills of Tuscany, form its intricate mosaics, while stripes of travertine and  granite create a majestic impression,  Il Maggiore, as it is called by non-Jews. It was those non-Jews of Florence who saved the majority of their Jewish friends and neighbours from the Nazis, diffused the explosives meant to destroy the synagogue by the retreating German occupants,  and helped the Jewish community restore the building’s grandeur.

27Spending Shabbos in the midst of all this beauty was one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. The food was also incredible (I hear that the fleishig restaurant is now closed, but the dairy one is operating). One of the cute shticks Florentine Jews did way back when the synagogue was built was adapting the traditional Tuscan Pollo Fritto (fried chicken) to Chanukkah, of all holidays! Oh well, they figured, anything fried in oil is good for Chanukkah. It is a well-known recipe, in many different variations, and it involves cutting a whole chicken into pieces and marinating it in lemon juice before dipping in egg, dredging through flour, and frying. Easy, right? Wait!

My recipe is adapted from the Exodus Russian Jewish magazine, which in turn adapted it from – you guessed it! – the Jews of Florence. So first of all, no whole chicken. We are going all healthy here, and we use only boneless skinless chicken breast.

Pollo Frtto 1.jpg

Do you see my meat tenderizer? Get ready to kill. Open each breast at its thickest side, flatten it down, and hit it! Flip it over and hit it some more. Cut into approximately 1-inch pieces.

Pollo Fritto 1b.jpgPlace those pieces into a bowl and sprinkle with spices. I use cinnamon, cumin, paprika, allspice, and sumac, in addition to salt and pepper, but you can add anything you like.

Pollo Fritto 1c.jpgNext, comes the actual marinade. Drench it in lemon juice and add some dry white wine, for good measure. I think that’s where we, in Odessa, learned to cook with wine – from Italians and from French. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, otherwise it might be too dry. Mix everything, making sure that all pieces are covered equally with spices and marinade.
Pollo Fritto 1d.jpgYou’ve abused the poor chicken enough, beat it up, cut it in pieces, introduced alcohol to it – let it rest already. Cover and let it sit for an hour or two, or even better, refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to cook, whisk a couple of eggs and mix in some flour (I use whole wheat).

Pollo Fritto 2.jpgPour egg and flour mixture into marinated chicken and mix really well to coat all the pieces. Now you can spray your frying pan with oil and preheat it. My motto is: “We try not to fry,” so I prefer to use the griddle and a very light dusting of oil. Use a large spoon to pour this stuff onto the pan or griddle, forming sort of “chicken latkes.

Pollo Fritto 5.jpgFlip them the moment they start turning golden. Do not overcook and make sure they don’t fall into separate pieces. It shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. Meanwhile, prepare a shallow baking pan by first lightly dusting it with oil and then covering its bottom with orange or apple juice.

Pollo Fritto 4.jpgTransfer lightly fried Pollo Fritto Artistico from frying pan or griddle onto the baking pan. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes. If you plan to serve them on Shabbos or Yom Tov, you’ll need a deeper baking pan and more juice on the bottom. You’ll also have to first bake uncovered before Shabbos, to make them look pretty, and only then cover the pan.

 

Pollo Fritto 9.jpg

Here it is served with brown rice and Florentine Salad (to see the recipe for Florentine Salad, please click here). A dry white wine with citrus notes goes very well with it, such as Tuscan Sauvignon Blanc, but I have not seen a kosher Italian Sauvignon Blanc. Bartenura imports Tuscan red wines that are great with beef and heavy tomato sauces, but shouldn’t be paired with fruity, lemony chicken. There are, however, excellent kosher Sauvignon Blancs from Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand, as well as one produced by  Hagofen winery  in Napa Valley, California (more costly, but worth it).

This is definitely not your bubbe’s shnitzel! I don’t do it for Chanukkah because I have my family traditional Chanukkah menu – lo mir darleibn, and you’ll see! – but I made it first for Sukkos, and my father loved it, and that’s good enough by me, so BUON APPETITO!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (about 1.5 lb), makes about 10 patties
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup or more lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange or apple juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, sumac, allspice, paprika, and other spices to taste

PROCEDURE:

  • Open and flatten chicken breasts.
  • Pound thin with meat tenderizer.
  • Cut into 1-inch pieces and place into a bowl.
  • Sprinkle with your choice of spices.
  • Pour lemon juice, wine, and olive oil. Mix well.
  • Cover and put aside for 1 – 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.
  • Whisk eggs, mix with flour, pour over chicken pieces. Mix well.
  • Oil and preheat frying pan or griddle.
  • With large spoon, form uniform patties and fry lightly on both sides.
  • Lightly oil a shallow baking pan and cover bottom with orange or apple juice.
  • Transfer patties onto baking pan, bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

62 Comments Add yours

  1. Your wonderful meal has added a distinct flavor to your presentation in Florence’s historic coexistence. Thank you.

    Harika bir yemeğin, Floransa’nın tarihi eşliğinde sunumunuz ayrı bir lezzet katmış. Teşekkürler.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words!

      Like

  2. louis11725 says:

    Thanks for sharing that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank YOU for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. louis11725 says:

        You are welcome

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I must have missed this one. I love the spices and I also love Florence. So beautiful and charming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So do I, I feel at home there. I have not gone back for almost twenty years now, and I miss it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Can’t do the recipe sadly (chicken!!), but I have been trying lots of new things these past few days. Did an Indian banquet last night and I’m making a Polish cabbage dish tonight… Plus desserts…

    Wishing you a very, very happy Chanukah! And I love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Happy and joyful Chanukkah to you and yours! I love Indian food too, and I have several Indian recipes posted. Enjoy your Yom Tov!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you. Happy evening

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As always a very good and well presented story and above all a fantastic and outstanding dish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear! I hope you are having a great and meaningful holiday!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Dolly, same to you. Had the kids and grandkids over, and we enjoyed great family time together.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s the best – I am happy for you!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Sumith says:

    Hi Dolly, Beautiful dish! As usual beautifully written and presented. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New year!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Sumith! Happy Holidays and many blessings to you and your family!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sumith says:

        Thanks a lot Dolly.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Joëlle says:

    We just recently watched a documentary on Florence on French TV. I would love to visit it. I am amazed at your ability to share all this interesting information while cooking for the holiday!
    By the way, please let me know if there are any of my recipes you would like translated on my other site. I will gladly do it! But of course you already speak so many languages, you may even know French 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no, dear Joelle, I don’t know French, unfortunately. However, I always have a few students who are happy to translate for me, and I use Google Translate. My oldest granddaughter is fluent in French, though, so sometimes I ask her, when she is not too busy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Joëlle says:

        I wonder what my stories and recipes sound like with Google translate 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sometimes very funny, but I manage to make sense! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. kelleysdiy says:

    You Crack Me Up!!! I just read the first recipe you suggested…I love what you said about the chicken!! hahaaa

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, but what did I say that was so funny? I don’t even know!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. kelleysdiy says:

        Do you see my meat tenderizer? Get ready to kill. Open each breast at its thickest side, flatten it down, and hit it! Flip it over and hit it some more.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. OH, I didn’t think it was all that funny – that’s just the way I talk. Actually, that’s how we all talk in Odessa. As one of my friends remarked, Odessa is the best place for writers: I don’t have to come up with anything, just walk around and listen.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. kelleysdiy says:

        Thanks for the chuckles..hahaa

        Liked by 1 person

      4. We aim to please! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Christy B says:

    Fry, bake, serve, and.. eat 🙂 You explain the steps so well for what I can only imagine to be a very delicious dish!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much, dear Christy; I am so glad you like it!

      Like

  11. Reblogged this on koolkosherkitchen and commented:

    I don’t know whether I have any Italian heritage, but I’ve always felt strong ties with Florence. Here is a Florentine Chanukkah recipe – enjoy, Beautiful People! Don’t forget, my book Kool Kosher Kitchen is scheduled for release on Saturday, December 16 and available for pre-order on Amazon right now!
    The word prompt today is INHERITANCE https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/inheritance/

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    1. Thank you, dear Jueseppi, you are a true friend! Sending blessings your way!

      Like

  12. Osyth says:

    Having lived in the ‘Ghetto’ in Rome (the Jewish area established in the mid 16th Century) for nearly two years in my twenties, I find this (naturally) beautifully written account of the Jewish influence and history in Florence fascinating. The connection to the Medici’s is particularly interesting. History is always in the hands of the researcher and reteller and you have blown apart so much of the popular prejudice of the Medici family as told in British Dramas etc etc. I preach balance much of the time and this account serves to balance a family who have become demonized in many ways on account of that couple of decades of disgrace. I think you would be very interested in a young friend of mine (best friend of my eldest daughter for nearly two decades) who lives in Florence …. he has been there maybe five years now, is an extraordinarily gifted painter and glove-fits the city with his wonderful traditional approach to figurative art. That he was SUCH a troubled boy who spent most of his time at our house for years inspires me to think of all the good you have done with the young over the years. Finally – that dish …. oh la la – I am on my own Christmas this year and looking for things I can eat and enjoy à seul- this just hit my charts with a bullet!!

    https://www.facebook.com/Sam-Good-Art-180855281997054/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Osyth, thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I am delighted to find out that you share my love for Florence. Before we started the school, I used to go to Italy for a couple of weeks if not every year, then at least every other year. I would hit the opening of the season at La Scala, spend a day or so exploring interesting places between Milan and Florence, and then spend the rest of my vacation revealing in the spirit of Florence. That’s not to forget the monastery in Fiesole, with Fra Beato Anjelico’s angelic frescoes, to be tautological! And yes, as I’ve mentioned before, I practically idolize the Medici family, including the popes who have emerged from that font of learning, culture, and art.
      Thank you for the link; I’ve enjoyed Sam’s portraiture, even though Facebook photos obviously can’t do them justice. I can certainly see Haute Renaissance influence in his careful studying and rendering of his subjects’ characters.
      I am glad you liked my Florentine recipe. I wish I were there to make it for you and share it with you! Oh, how I miss Florence!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Osyth says:

        It is such a pleasure …. I adore Italy. In fact I had always intended to return and retire there. My children always joked that I would be a strange Old Nonne living in a crumbling apartment in Rome (the Ghetto, naturally) and riding round the country on a scooter in a headscarf and Jackie-Os! Here I can drive comfortable to Milan and from there it is all too enticingly close but my husband is a total Francophile and I love him so here I am. However, nothing is sealed til the fat lady sings and I have yet to take him on a driving tour of Italy (he has been to Milan and Turin and to the Amalfi coast but always to conferences which in my view is never the same) 😉 I am so envious of your days of attending the opening of the season at la Scalia – truly the stuff of dreams and I will now read even more keenly about the Medici family …. you inspire! As for Sam. He wants to paint all my daughters and I but the problem is getting us all in Florence together. It would be the most wonderful thing to have on my wall. One day. When we all stay still for a while. And your recipe. One of these days I will come knocking on your door and sit listening to you speaking your fountainous wisdom whilst you cook something. Meanwhile, I promise I will make it and it will be in your honour.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for the honor!
        I spent three months in Rome waiting for US visa to come through, and I have only been there once after that. I think this is it between me and Rome, although I did have some favorite places there. Florence, though, is an undying affair, and I keep toying with the idea of teaching there for a year, then finally retiring to Israel, But then, just like you, I have to defer to my husband.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Osyth says:

        Florence is very different. For me the charm of Rome is in her layers … the ridiculous notion of just shoving renaissance walls on Roman roots and then topping them off with something modern and jarring. The Wedding Cake remains anathema but then you close your eyes and trust in the person guiding you and they say ‘open’ and laid out before your eyes are fantastical Roman ruins and behind you a statue of neptune to make any girl swoon. and the fountain di trevi and the Spanish Steps. It is what I see as home in Italy because it was. However, I think Florence would take that prize in a whisper! Oh, those pesky husbands … I so wish they would just do as we please!!!

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      4. I found Rome somewhat crowded and touristy. Having a cappuccino on Pizza Navona at night when Neptune and the other Baroque characters almost come alive is nice, but also a bit “over the top,” I felt. Even Fountain di Trevi, while also Baroque, is more impressive,perhaps closer to Renaissance than real Baroque. I much preferred Via Veneto, had my favorite little restaurant there. I got to see three popes, though, two dead and one brand new and alive – John Paul II. Now you know when I spent my three months in Rome – 1978.

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      5. Osyth says:

        For me the ghetto was my haven, I worked near the Spanish Steps and that was dreadfully overrun with tourists. My favourite place was actually the Pantheon. I used to sit in a cafe in the square for hours reading (which was an essential part of my job – lucky me) and often would just wander inside … it has a magnificent calm about it. I too saw JP2 …. on Easter Sunday the year I arrived. I don’t do well in crowds so I didn’t go again but I did visit the Vatican more than once. My first digs were in Via Argentina at the very top of a small hotel. N.Y. room had a roof garden room had which was shared with one other and from it I could wave at Gore Vidal (who was a client of the Agency ) he never looked amused! Then I moved after a month into my permanent place. I loved it but I was very young and very fortunate to have the opportunity at that age. Florence is a much less aggressive city. I would say just as Paris doesn’t represent France and London is virtually another country to Britain so Rome is very different to so much of Italy. You have me remembering so much and smiling … thank you Dolly x

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You have me remembering as well! We stayed in Ostia di Lido, and the office where I worked as a translator was on Via Santa Margherita, so I had to take the train every day, which was quite an experience, in the thick of an Italian crowd, rather than tourists. I loved Pizza di Spagna, regardless of tourist crowds; I felt more comfortable there than on Piazza Navona, Because I grew up in Odessa, surrounded by deliberately designed and deliberately exaggerated Baroque architecture, Neptune and co. seemed a little understated to me, and overwhelming at the same time. I took my six-year old son to Vatican almost every Sunday, exploring art one bit at the time. That’s how we came across two popes lying in state and then just happened to be there when the new one was entering Vatican.
        I’ve heard from the White emigrants in France that Paris is real France, and everything else is province. They say the same in NYC. We don’t hold such pretensions in South Florida. Our famous Floridian Dave Barry claims that we live as close as possible to the US while not actually being there.
        Thank you for sharing memories with me; they brought me back to mine…

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Osyth says:

        What lovely reminiscences! Your son must have profited from those moments in the Vatican. I remember that year so well with Popes popping off right left and centre, smoke in different colours pouring out of the chimney and all the speculation. JP2 has always been a tough act to follow. I simply must explore more of Odessa. I am horribly ignorant. As it happens I am in Paris Monday-Thursday of next week. On my own with The Bean for company. I love the city – who wouldn’t but it has nothing in common with rural France. I have visited NYC and I am glad I did but I suspect I would prefer South Florida. I also rather think I would like Dave Barry!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I suspect you would adore Dave Barry. http://www.davebarry.com/columns-recent.php
        Enjoy Paris! I’ve been there in December and remember the holiday spirit. I also remember a White Russian restaurant called Rasputin that featured an unbelievable Gypsy mother/son duo, while Omar Sharif was scarfing caviar by spoonful at the next table. I was told that he loved Gypsy music and came often to listen, BTW, did you know that Yul Brynner descended from one of the famous Gypsy families? Here he is in Paris, with an uncle.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Osyth says:

        I have to own to you that I knew Omar very well … this is quite bizarre. My mentor was a man called Steve Kenis (Jewish 😉) and he was Omar’s agent. Kenis fell in love and spun around the world which meant that his young doe eyed assistant aka me got a fast track to much more responsibility than was normal. Omar was a wonderful man. Those eyes, Dolly … I have a story but it is for your ears only (and I remained chaste throughout) … I think you will laugh and laugh. But how extraordinary …. we have just gone literally full circle because it was Kenis that had me sent to Rome (for a variety of projects including one with Harvey Keitel). And then you tell me about a restaurant in Paris with Omar hovering up caviar. I will certainly watch the Yul Brynner clip … I have always always loved him. Gosh. I’m all of a shiver 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Just curious: was Omar Sharif a gambler in real life? Russians seem to believe that, and they knew him quite well. I have never reacted to “dark and handsome” type of charm, perhaps because it’s my family look. My husband’s coloring is, well, colorful – reddish blond with green eyes. That’s what I am attracted to – colors. You’ve led an exciting life, hobnobbing with all kinds of celebrities!

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Osyth says:

        I took stock of my life at 40 and wondered why I had been around celebrity so much. Just the way my cookie crumbled I guess but I can say emphatically that they are just flesh and blood. Recognizable but exactly the same as us all. Omar was certainly a gambler. He loved Backgammon and Bridge – was a master of both and certainly enjoyed the gamble. He was a highly intelligent, educated and erudite man but he did expect his limpid eyes to melt women. they didn’t work on me. My husband is blue eyed with mouse hair and I love his looks but it is his mind that really captivated me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      12. As my work for a newspaper (“Evening Odessa”) and television took me around quite a bit, I also had been around celebrities, some of whom became dear friends. I guess you and I have this in common; we are able to see them as people, rather than distant stars. So the Russians were right! Bridge is related to Preferans, a favorite game of Russian intellectuals, so anyone who plays Bridge is intelligent by definition, in Russian perception.
        I had communicated with the man who eventually became my husband for a few months online and by phone before actually meeting him, so looks didn’t even play a role there. 😻😻

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Osyth says:

        I think I always recognized this in you, Dolly … you have that effortless way of including everyone and not pandering that says to me ‘she knew celebrity and she knows how to deal with it’. I also believe that you yourself will be interviewed and feted when the world wakes up to your brilliance. Wait til tomorrow, my friend … I will be makin g a noise on facebook about your book because you people deserve to discover you. The first time my husband and I hooked up on the phone having talked much by email and knowing that we were organizing ‘a date’ he said ‘we’ll keep this brief, don’t want to run out of things to say on Sunday’. The conversation hasn’t run dry yet 💕

        Liked by 1 person

      14. I don’t know about the world and certainly not about “brilliance” as I believe those things are in His hand, but I truly appreciate your helping me to promote the book. I have no notion how to do that! The first time my husband and I saw each other “live” was when I was presenting a paper at a conference in Boston, and he drove up from NY and sneaked into the auditorium. We spent a few days in Boston, mostly with my son, then he drove me down to NY, and we had our first “official date”: “The Queen of Spades” at the Met with all Russian star cast. That’s when I found out that he was just as much an opera fan as I. Odessa blood tells!

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Osyth says:

        What a wonderful story you two have! My first ‘date’ with my husband was in London. We ate lunch at a Lebanese restaurant looking over Green Park and then we walked. We walked so much and so far, talking and talking and only stopping to take in the Kusama exhibition at the Tate Modern and for supper of tapas that when we eventually got on respective trains, I looked at me feet and they were bleeding! I do what I can to help people I like and respect, Dolly because I want to. I want your book to succeed because it deserves to. If I thought it would be rubbish I would politely move on …. honestly! Take care and go softly both of you.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Thank you! Your story is even more wonderful. And with your help, my book can’t help but succeed! 😻

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reblogging.

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