Thursday, 15 November 2012

Chicken cooked in beer - Pollo alla birra

I'm the first to admit that this does not look particularly appealing but you'll have to trust me. It's a fantastic dish, really easy and tastes delicious. It's a staple in our house.

The origins of the dish are slightly obscure but the general consensus is that it comes from Belgium. Be that as it may, it's a very common dish in northern Italy and this recipe comes from my father-in-law, Giuseppe who's been cooking it for years. 

Be careful with the beer you use. I used to make it with whatever I had to hand but some beers, particularly standard lagers, leave a decidedly bitter taste when cooked. The one that I've found works best is Leffe but some real ales work well too.

RECIPE - Serves 3-4
9 chicken pieces, thighs and drumsticks work well here
500 ml beer - read note above
Plain flour for dusting chicken
1 stick celery
1 carrot
1 onion
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Chop the onion, celery and carrot very finely (I usually just pulse them in a food processor). Then fry gently in a little oil for about 5 mins until softened. Remove the vegetables to a plate.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dust the chicken with flour, knocking off any excess.
Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the chicken until golden brown on all sides.
Put the vegetables back in the pan with the chicken. Pour in the beer (it won’t cover the chicken completely), put a lid on and cook gently for about 35 mins.
When the 35 mins are up, remove the lid, turn up the heat and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the sauce has reduced. Check the seasoning.
Serve the chicken with the sauce poured over, a crisp green salad on the side and lots of crusty bread  for mopping up the sauce.


  1. This is a new idea to me but one I would happily try. I have some ale that needs to be used up in the fridge, so maybe this is the recipe to use it in!

    1. Do give it a try - I think you'll be amazed at how the beer becomes such a delicious sauce!

  2. It's lovely to be able to share your family's recipes on your blog. I know what you mean about choosing the right beer. Leffe beer has quite a different taste to UK standard lagers, doesn't it? I'll bet the chicken is lovely and moist inside.

    1. The chicken does stay moist and the beer makes a really wonderful sauce!

  3. I love family recipes and being able to share and taste them. I'll have to try this some time : )

    1. You should give this a try, it's really easy and tastes gorgeous!

  4. I think this looks wonderful actually, and I love food like this, and I have seen something similar when I was I'm Bruges. A comforting dish just right for a midweek family meal. Karen