Pollo Fritto Artistico

Before presenting to you, Beautiful People, a unique Chanukkah recipe originating in Italy and inspired by non-Jews, it is my great pleasure to share a lovely poem composed by a non-Jewish blogofriend Jonathan Coswell who chronicles every day events in limericks. Please click on the link to enjoy the poem and come back for the recipe and a story of Italians defending their Jewish friends and neighbors throughout centuries.

CHANUKKAH | By the Mighty Mumford (wordpress.com

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.


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.


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.

Oh, 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, Italy

The 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 neighbors 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.


Spending 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 (meat) 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.jpg

Place 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.jpg
Pollo Fritto 1d.jpg

Next, 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.
You’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.jpg

Pour 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.jpg

Flip 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.jpg

Transfer lightly fried Pollo Fritto Artistico from frying pan or griddle onto the baking pan. Bake uncovered at 350 F 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! BUON APPETITO!


  • 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


  • 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.

Happy Chanukkah – enjoy!

19 Comments Add yours

  1. not that I know much about food blogs, Dolly, but I’m pretty sure that yours is the best ever.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. You make me blush all over the Internet, David – I thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A fine advocacy for Florence with you usual informative history

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Derrick, but I don’t think Florence needs an advocate. If anything, the famous (forbidden for many years) Russian Silver Age poet Nicholas Gumilev had done it beautifully.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lulu: “Chicken, yummy!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lulu girl! We agree.
      Mews, purrs and Holiday Greetings from The Cat Gang.


  4. lghiggins says:

    Wonderful sounding recipe, but your history “lesson” meant even more to me. I am always flummoxed by the constant attacks through history on G-d’s chosen people and their resilience. I practically cheer when I read accounts like this one today of Christians and Jews defending and helping each other. We are both celebrating this season, and so I wish you and yours a Happy Hanukkah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Linda, and I wish Happy Holidays to you and yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It sounds like a delight for the meat eaters in my family.

    Florence is beautiful, i was blessed to visit thrice in my life and would go back in a heartbeat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Mimi. I am glad you share my admiration of Florence.


  6. Doug Thomas says:

    Happy Channukkah, Dolly! What more can I say in praise of your historical culinary blog posts and the extraordinary you except “ditto”!? Yeah, “the Jews caused the plague”, the dirty rats! Good grief! The stupidity of people in all times and places. Ignorance is the plague that destroys us even to this day in so many ways. I pray we grow out of it in the coming year, to the degree possible if not totally. Have a blessed 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your king compliments, dear friend (blushing all over the Internet).
      I pray for a peaceful year all over the world, and specifically, the end of the atrocious war in Ukraine.
      Happy and healthy New Year to you and Mr Andy!


      1. Doug Thomas says:

        Amen! Same to you and your family, Dolly. I am proud to live in a country where the likes of you are allowed in, yet ashamed of her, too, that there are people in this country who don’t appreciate the talents and culturally enriching qualities of immigrants of all backgrounds and levels of education. Hugs for you and your family, Dolly! I thank G-d you made it to these shores, especially in view of the struggles of your homeland just now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, dear Doug, I hope you don’t mind if I say that my homeland is Israel, even though I wasn’t born there. The war in Ukraine is atrocious, of course, and my heart is breaking for all the victims of this idiotic imperialistic adventure.
        I thank this great country not only for taking me in, but for putting my name on the Senator’s List, exchanging me, as well as many others (more worthy of attention, than I!) for grain, and thus rescuing me from being send to Gulag.
        I thank you for your kind wishes, and send blessings your way, dear friend.


      3. Doug Thomas says:

        I think that is a reasonable viewpoint.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you for understanding.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for the delicious helping of history and chicken — good any time of year! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, dear Anna.


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