Butter Chicken the Italian way

butter chicken“Pollo ai burro”. Trattoria Sostanza in Florence, makes this divine dish since 1869!. It’s a small Trattoria close to the train station, that opens only for lunch. I went there with the lovely recipe book writer and friend, Tessa Kiros. She insisted we tried butter chicken, as it’s one of the best dishes the restaurant offered on the menu. Oh, how right she was! Juicy chicken breast cooked entirely in butter and served in individual small baking dishes, with lemon wedges. I know, the amount of butter needed for this dish is outrageous! But you really need to try it, at least once. I serve it with plain spaghetti or linguine pasta, which helps absorb all the goodness of the pan juices.


  • 4 chicken breast fillets, with skin, no bones (see note)
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 500 grams unsalted butter (don’t even think of substitutes here!)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 2 lemons


Preheat oven to 220 C. Season the chicken fillets with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge it in the flour and put next the stove. Divide the butter in 8, roughly equal pieces. Put a large oven proof skillet, over medium heat. Add 2 pieces of the butter and let it melt. Add the garlic together with the chicken, skin side down. Let it cook, undisturbed, for 10 minutes (don’t turn over). Add 2 more pieces of the butter and cook 5 minutes more. Add another piece of butter and transfer skillet in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer skillet back on the stove, turn the chicken over and add the remaining butter. Cook for 5 minutes more. Squeeze half a lemon over the chicken. Cut the remaining lemons in wedges and serve with the chicken

Note: The trattoria uses chicken breast for this dish, but you could use thighs or any other part of the chicken if you prefer. Personally, I usually buy a whole chicken and ask my butcher to remove the bones and cut it in 8 pieces. I cook all of it in the butter and use the carcass to make stock.

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