Mamma Agata’s Lemon Chicken (Pollo al limone)


I’m going to treat you again to another wonderful recipe that I made in cooking class with Mamma Agata in Ravello, Italy.  This dish is so flavorful and aromatic that it is a delight to the senses.  Your kitchen will smell like rosemary, sage, garlic and lemons, all mingled together in a manner that keeps the chicken moist.  The amazing thing about this recipe is that you use absolutely no oil.  I couldn’t believe it, but it is indeed true.  The skin on the chicken renders all the fat you need.  You will need to use a non-stick skillet, however.

This recipe calls for  white wine infused with herbs.  Mamma Agata infuses the white wine with baked herbs for 4 days before she makes this recipe, but I did not.  I added the wine and some fresh herbs at the end, and it came almost as good as hers.  I just can’t bring myself to take a good bottle of wine ( always cook with wine that you would drink), and put herbs in it.  Perhaps you want to give it a try.  I’ll include this in the recipe and you can decide for yourself.

This recipe did teach me the importance of a good quality sea salt.  It really makes a difference.  Mamma “A” says to always use sea salt.  I actually bought her own brand of sea salt (of course I did) and the taste was just divine.  So now I’m a believer in using the best sea salt (or any type of salt for that matter) that you can find.

RECIPE:  serves 4 

1/2 to 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces with skin on.

5 cloves garlic,cut in half.

2 tsp. sea salt

1 TBSP dried sage ( I used a bit more).

1 TBSP dried rosemary (I used a bit more).

1 cup wine, or Mamma Agata’s wine infusion (see below)

1 TBSP Italian parsley , coarsely chopped

Juice of 2 large lemons ( or 4 if they’re small)

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

8 leaves fresh sage

Wine Infusion:  to be prepared at least 4 days in advance

1 bottle of white wine

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

8 leaves fresh sage

Place the sage and rosemary leaves in a warm oven for a few minutes until you begin to smell the scent of the herbs.  Then immediately remove them from the oven and place them in the bottle of wine.  Close the bottle and set it aside for at least 4 days.

1.  Wash and dry the chicken well, leaving the skin on.

2.  Add the garlic to a non-stick fry pan or skillet.

3.  Heat the garlic over a high flame until the garlic becomes very hot, but not burned.  Use a wooden spoon to turn the garlic to release its natural oils without burning it.

4.  Add the chicken to the pan, one piece at a time, skins down.  You should hear the chicken sizzle. Add half of the sea salt, rosemary and sage to the top of the chicken.  (Mamma Agata was much more generous with the dried herbs.  I saw her throw in a handful or more, but lets stick to the recipe).

5.  Once the skin of the chicken has caramelized (i.e. golden brown), turn the chicken over.

6.  Add the remaining salt, sage and rosemary.  Cook until this side is caramelized.

7.  After both sides are caramelized, lower the flame, cover the pan and cook over low heat for about twenty minutes.  Do NOT uncover the lid while it is cooking or else it will break the moisture barrier and become dry.

8.  After twenty minutes, the natural juices  should have reduced.  Now uncover the chicken and add the wine (infusion or not) to the pan.  If not using the infusion, add you fresh herbs at this point.  Continue cooking over low heat until the wine reduces.

9.  Just before serving, add the chopped parsley and fresh lemon juice.

NOTE*  You can cook this ahead of time, up to the point of adding the wine and then step #9.



mammas chciken recipe

mamma agata book

9 thoughts on “Mamma Agata’s Lemon Chicken (Pollo al limone)

    • When I make this chicken dish, I usually serve it as the Italians do, as a “secondo piatto,” a second dish that is the entree. The first course is always a light pasta dish, and then I serve the chicken with just a vegetable and a salad. Some suggestions that can be found in my blog archives would be “penne with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar”, “spaghetti al limone”, “spaghetti del contadina”, or truly any pasta recipe that strikes your fancy. If, you really don’t want a first course, I would suggest serving it with a risotto dish on the side or my “baked rice with mozzarella.” Any vegetable would be divine. I hope you enjoy! Please let me know.


  1. I love every recipe you’ve posted on your blog but I must say, Mama Agata’s Lemon Chicken is awesome. I made it 3 times in a week and a half…I will make it again and again…licking the plate every time. ,Keep them coming, you know I gave away all my cookbooks when I moved, your blog is the only place to go…


  2. Silvia, your chicken recipe from mamma Agatha kitchen is so professional and easyi to follow, not to mention the photography that I’m going to follow yours. Kudos!


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