A truly traditional Italian trattoria that serves classic local food, and is unassuming is essentially endangered. Blame it on the fact many of these restaurants are family-owned and the younger generations moved onto other careers. Or perhaps it's because chain restaurants are favored to a sit-down meal at one of these establishments. Whatever the reason, there are fewer than before, which is all the more reason we set out to support those that do it right.
One place in Florence that's as traditional as it gets is Trattoria Sostanza. The restaurant's been open for more than 150 years and is nicknamed Il Troia (aka the trough) as diners line up to dig into their traditional Tuscan food.
Set on a small street near the Arno river, you could miss the restaurant if you weren't looking for it. When you enter, you'll notice a few things right away: there are only a handful of tables (so, yes, you need a reservation) and the decor is simple but comforting.
The food is traditionally Tuscan and their relatively short menu has a handful of classic dishes available at all times like tripe, bistecca all Fiorentina, sauteed porcini mushrooms, and beans in olive oil.
But their butter chicken or petti di Pollo al burro is what they're known for. In fact, we'd say it's such a highlight that you shouldn't order any other main dish when you visit.
My family has been frequenting Trattoria Sostanza since I was a child. And, after missing it, we were determined to figure out how to make the recipe at home. This is the technique we came up with that's a twist on the original recipe (as in easier to make but just as delicious). And, we've been cooking it for years.
Yes, most recipes that are coined "florentine" have some sort of spinach or wilted green added in (ahem, we're looking at you, Eggs Florentine).
But that is not the case here. Also, known as Tuscan Butter Chicken, Italian Butter Chicken, or simply as Butter Chicken, this recipe has long been associated with Trattoria Sostanza.
So much so that the beloved author Elizabeth David shared a recipe for it in her definitive cookbook Italian Food.
At Sostanza, they make this by dredging the chicken in egg but we like this simpler method. Also, they don't use the garlic or the parsley but we like the extra flavor they both bring.
If you wanted you could alter it even further by say, topping it with crisped sage leaves, by wrapping the chicken in prosciutto as we do in this recipe, or by cooking the butter until it's browned but that's not necessary.
Here are a few keys to making this dish a success every time:
You could serve this with nothing more than a side salad of arugula, some wilted spinach, or white beans in olive oil. A few other recipes that would go well with this dish are:
Want to cook this recipe at a later date? Pin it to your Pinterest account so you can access it when you need some cooking inspiration.
Okay, now it's time to stock up your pantry with all the Italian essential ingredients, then try your hand at making this, and then share your creation with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!
And, if you're heading to Italy and need help deciding where to eat and what to do, check out our travel planning services!
divided (I like to use this Parmigiano Reggiano cream butter)
can use rice flour to make it gluten free
for garnish (optional)
Preheat The Oven: Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Coat The Chicken: Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper then dredge in flour and shake off the excess.
Make The Brown Butter: Heat the olive oil and 4 tablespoons of the butter in a two-handled aluminum pan or a small cast iron pan over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until skin is golden and the butter is starting to turn golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Transfer To The Oven: Flip the chicken, skin-side up, then add the garlic cloves, then transfer the pan to the oven and let it cook until the chicken is cooked through about 10 minutes.
Finish Cooking: Return the pan to the stovetop, baste the chicken briefly by spooning the butter over the chicken. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and cook over medium heat until the butter is brown, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Serve immediately with a squeeze of the halved lemon and, if desired, a pinch of fresh parsley.
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