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Sweet & Sour Sicilian Braised Chicken (Pollo Agrodolce)

Scott Phillips

Servings: four.

In Sicily, this dish would be served with a vegetable like artichokes or sautéed greens, probably after a simple pasta. For a one-course meal, I like serving the chicken with plain couscous, which is not at all traditional (in Sicily, couscous is usually only served with a fish stew).


  • 4 whole chicken legs, cut into thighs and drumsticks (3-1/2 to 4 lb. total)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1/3 cup olive oil; plus a drizzle of your best extra-virgin oil to finish the dish
  • 1 small onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 small rib celery, cut into small dice
  • 1 small carrot, cut into small dice
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. good-quality white-wine vinegar (you might need a bit more, depending on the strength of your vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 Tbs. capers, preferably salt-packed Sicilian capers, soaked in cool water and rinsed
  • A few large sprigs fresh mint, leaves lightly chopped (about 2 Tbs.); plus a few sprigs for garnish

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 630
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 360
  • Fat (g): 40
  • Saturated Fat (g): 8
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 22
  • Cholesterol (mg): 105
  • Sodium (mg): 540
  • Carbohydrates (g): 29
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 36


  • Pat the chicken pieces dry, season them with salt and pepper, and dredge them lightly in the flour, tapping off any excess. Heat a-large sauté pan fitted with a lid over medium-high heat and add the 1/3 cup olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces (in batches, if necessary), browning them very well on both sides. When browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Pour off all but about 3 Tbs. of the fat from the pan.
  • Turn the heat to medium low and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté until they’re soft and fragrant, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar to the pan and let it bubble for about 1 minute. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them over in the vegetables once or twice to coat them. Increase the heat to medium and add the wine, letting it boil until almost evaporated. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf, cover the pan, and simmer on low heat until the chicken is just about tender, 30 to 35 minutes, turning the pieces once or twice during cooking. Add the raisins, pine nuts, and capers and simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. longer. The sauce should be reduced and thickened but still pourable. If it looks too dry, add a splash of chicken stock or water. Taste for seasoning. It should have a nice balance between sweet and sour but not be too aggressive. Add more salt, pepper, a splash of vinegar, or a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors.
  • Arrange the chicken on a large serving platter. To the pan, add a drizzle off your best-extra-virgin olive oil and the chopped mint and mix it into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the mint-sprigs.


Rate or Review

Reviews (7 reviews)

  • MommyDot | 08/19/2013

    I admit I did not do the last bit with the mint, and maybe that is the magic bit, but I thought this was just ok/bland. Good, but not one of my "keeper" recipes.

  • YKDonna | 01/28/2012

    This is a wonderful combination of flavours. It is also good with pork tenderloin medallions in place of chicken. I have added a quarter bulb of fennel, finely minced, to the onion, carrot, and celery mixture. I have changed the pine nuts to toasted cashews or almonds - it's all good. A tablespoon of fresh lemon juice at the end brightens the dish. Thank you for a great recipe.

  • gainsboroughgardens | 11/30/2011

    This is truly one of my all time favorites and am always asked for the recipe. I like more veggies in the sauce and so double the onions/carrots/celery. The liquid, however, does not need to be increased by as much -- if at all. I agree that you will need to taste the sauce at the end to make adjustments -- depending, as the recipe indicates, on the vinegar you use. Also, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the very end does not hurt.

  • m2violin | 10/11/2010

    Very good recipe. Be sure to taste the sauce at the end so you can adjust it to taste. I wound up adding considerably more vinegar.

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