Pollo al burro (Chicken in butter)                        Jan 2018

I purchased my first Elizabeth David book “Italian Food” in the late 80’s I was a young Art Director in an advertising agency in Covent Garden and picked it up from one of the many bookshops in Charing Cross Road.

It was the first real cookbook (no pictures) I had ever seen and was immediately inspired. It was a revelation and as far as they’re being no pictures, how wrong could one be. The images were the best I had ever seen. 

There is one dish I have always wanted to cook which for one reason or another I have never managed to do, until now. Petti Di Pollo alla Fliorentina Chicken Breasts Fried in Butter.

The other reason is the Trattoria Sostanza in Via del Porcellana Florence where this dish is legendary but again I have never had the chance to visit this little gem but read much about it. (I will defiantly make it on my next visit to Florence)

It’s a simple dish which uses only Chicken Breast, Butter and a little flour for dusting, so make sure you buy the best you can afford as it will make a difference.

Pollo al burro (Chicken in butter)

From  Elizabeth David’s ‘Florentine chicken breast’ from Italian Food. 

For two people you will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, flattened out a little with a rolling pin
  • Seasoned flour for dusting
  • 100 grams cold unsalted butter 
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Half a lemon

How to make:

Heat the oven to 180ºC.

Season then dust the chicken breast lightly in flour on both sides.

Melt 80g of the butter in a pan over medium heat. As soon as it has melted but is still pale, add the chicken breasts

Let them cook on one side until the butter and the chicken begins to brown 

Keep watching and when it is a caramelised, hazelnut colour, turn over the chicken, and add the rest of the butter, cover the pan with a lid or foil and place the pan in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and remove the chicken to a warm plate and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

Squeeze a half a lemon into the pan while swirling the pan this will create a creamy sauce with the caramelised butter. 

Season with salt and pepper and serve the chicken breast with the buttery lemon sauce. 

Keep the vegetables simple, mashed potato and steamed greens.

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Elizabeth David, CBE was a British cookery writer. In the mid-20th century she strongly influenced the revitalisation of home cookery in her native country and beyond with articles and books about European cuisines and traditional British dishes. 


We now have more cookbooks, TV cookery programmes and celebrity chefs than you can throw a stick at. 

Elizabeth David was the forerunner of them all. Many years after her birth, she’s still worth reading and learning from.

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