~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Romanian Ostropel...Chicken with Garlicky Tomato Gravy

Romanian Ostropel...Chicken with Garlicky Tomato Gravy. Romanian Ostropel was one of my favorite dishes while growing up. I just loved it when my mom made this for us...she usually served it over mashed potatoes along with a leafy salad. Absolutely loved it. The sauce went so well with creamy mashed potatoes... .mmmm.
I admit my version for this post is different than my moms in that I used chicken breasts to make the dish. My mom used the whole chicken, and I have to say that I much prefer it with all the chicken parts... dark meat and white. I find the dark meat has soo much more flavor than the white...but maybe that's just me:). In any case, I was really craving ostropel and all I had was chicken breasts. But I decided to make it anyway... and really enjoyed it( maybe not as much as if I had used some dark meat as well:)....
The tomato-based sauce is quite popular in many Romanian dishes...used to make all sorts of dishes. Lots, and lots of variations.... For example, you can use a variety of meats with the sauce(varying the spices a bit)...you can use meatballs(chiftelute marinate), beef, pork or lamb instead of the chicken. Or you can turn the dish into a vegetarian meal, by adding green beans(mancare de fasole verde) or peas(mancare de mazare) or cooked dried beans(mancare de fasole uscata), potatoes(mancare de cartofi), fresh tomatoes(mancare de rosii)... or a combination of a few vegetables.
Most times onion is also sauteed for extra flavor. This particular recipe for ostropel skips the onion...at least that was the version I grew up with.
The dish cooks rather quickly and is an ideal weeknight meal. You can actually make this dish without dredging the chicken pieces in flour... simply brown the chicken pieces in a bit of oil. You can just thicken the sauce with a bit of potato starch or potato flour, making the dish gluten-free.
Traditionally, a sprig or two of Romanian cimbru is used in the sauce( maybe a bay leaf). My mom gave me some dried cimbru sprigs some time ago...from her own garden. I have stored it away... for dishes like this. Actually, I ended up using my mom's homegrown cimbru for this recipe. But I've also made this dish using summer savory( the closest to Romanian cimbru) as well... and had excellent results.
I like the flavor of cimbru(or summer savory) and use 1 tsp, but you can adjust to preference. I use homemade chicken stock(as did my mom)... and this time around used 3 garlic cloves. If you don't like the dish to have too much of a garlic taste, you can use less. But the dish is supposed to have a garlic flavor:)...and some people even use more than 3 cloves. This dish is a healthier alternative to cream sauces or gravies....and uses simple ingredients. Love it over creamy mashed potatoes....but I like it with bread as well:). Hope you enjoy...

Note: You can easily use bone-in chicken pieces(from a whole chicken) or boneless chicken thighs. Brown them as you would the chicken breasts and adjust the sauce ingredients... especially if you are using more meat. You may need to double the sauce/seasoning ingredients...adjust tomato paste to taste.
~ My mom would sometimes make this dish using cooked chicken . She would often make the Romanian Chicken Soup with Dumplings.... and the cooked chicken was used to make the ostropel....this way she made 2 dishes out of one chicken)

Tip:While my mom never made it spicy, I am sure you can easily add a pinch or two of cayenne, or chile flakes....I think I may just do that next time:).

You will need:
2 half chicken breasts, cut in cubes
2-3 TBS flour, for dredging
salt/pepper for seasoning

1 TBS tomato paste
1 TBS flour(potato or regular)
2-3 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 cups chicken stock, or as needed

1 tsp dried cimbru*, or to taste
salt/pepper to taste
*or summer savory... close enough to the Romanian cimbru.

1. Season chicken breasts with salt/pepper and cut in cubes. Then toss in a bit of flour...shake off excess.
2. Heat a large skillet(or pot) on med/hot heat...until hot... and then add 2-3 TBS olive oil.
3. When oil is hot, add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
4. Lower heat....To the browned bits in the skillet add 1 TBS flour along with a 1 TBS tomato paste.
5. Using a whisk, slowly mix in the 2 cups of chicken broth, making sure to get all the flour/tomato paste lumps out. If need be, take the skillet off heat until the sauce is completely free of lumps. Place back on stove.
6. Add 2-3 grated garlic cloves and 1 tsp cimbru or summer savory. Mix to combine.
7. Add the browned chicken and cover skillet/pot. Simmer sauce for for an additional 10-15 minutes or until sauce has thickened up a bit... to a gravy consistency. If you feel the sauce is too thick, add a bit more stock(even water) to loosen it up a bit. If it is too loose(thin) cook the sauce down a bit more...
8. Serve over mashed potatoes... or with crusty bread... or pasta ...or even over rice. Re-heats very well.


Alina---Explora Cuisine said...

If it's stew, I love it!!! I didn't know about this variation with the chicken being fried with flour, I'll definitely try it soon :) Have a lovely day Ellie (here it's snowing AGAIN!)

Mihaela said...

Foarte gustos, Ellie, am facut si eu cu piept de pui, fiindca asta am avut, dar sigur imi place mai mult cu pulpe. Iar usturoi am pus 9 bucati :)

M Family said...

yummy! will have to try this soon.

Ellie said...

Explora Cuisine, I like to toss the chicken pieces in a bit of flour( dusting off excess) as it gives the chicken a bit of a "crust"...and provides flavor bits in the pan. You don't have to do that, though. Eventually the flour that sticks to the chicken will also thicken the sauce a bit more. Thanks for stopping by...before you know it, you'll see the flowers blooming:).

Mihaela, Ah, ce bine ca iti place si tie cu pulpe:) si cu mult mai mult usturoi:). Mama mea facea si ostropel cu carnea de pui fiarta( cand facea supa cu galuste). Puiul avea gust mai mult si era si mai fraged....si facea si doua mancarii dintrun pui:)

M Family, I hope you can give it a try...it's quite easy to do and flavorful. It would be nice if the whole family likes it:)...

retete- ina said...

buun intodeauna

Pushpa said...

Delicious preparation of chicken.Awesome recipe.

Speranta said...

Ellie ,
Multumesc pentru reteta,imi place ostropel ,foaarte mult.
Sa ai o zi binecuvantata.

denise70 said...

I just wanted to post that we made this a couple of days ago and it was wonderful! It was just as tasty, even better as left overs. I used a combination of boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Delish!

Ellie said...

Denise70, Wonderful! So glad you enjoyed one of my favorites:)...and thank you kindly for taking the time to comment and share your feedback. So appreciated...and yes, the leftovers intensify in flavors and taste even better:).

Speranta, multumesc pentru vizita... ostropelul este foarte bun mai ales acasa la mama:).

Pushpa, Thanks for visiting....so glad you like the recipe. Quick and tasty!

Intradevar, ostropelul tot mereu este bun de pus pe masa:). Multumesc pentru vizita.

Mary @Delightful Bitefuls said...

This looks absolutely divine!!

Great blog; happy I found you!

Mary xo
Delightful Bitefuls

megi said...

Hi Ellie, I wanted to let you know that I made this dish twice since you posted, it's fantastic. I followed the recipe exactly except for using a bay leaf once and the second time involved using a wee little bit of xanthan gum to replace the flour. It was great, the sauce was shiny and I could really taste the garlic, my daughter loved it too, I'll definitely be making it again.

Ellie said...

Mary, Thanks for stopping by...glad you are enjoying the blog...sure hope you like the ostropel:)...

Megi, That's wonderful! So glad you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for your feedback...it's always a good feeling when someone else tries a recipe and likes it:).
Yes, it is a kid friendly recipe as well, I know none of us kids complained when my mom made this for us. It was always a favorite.
And, yes using potato flour, cornstarch, xantham gum or other various thickeners will give you that glossy texture...flour usually doesn't . You can always make the sauce of thinner consistency by not use any thickeners at all.... or cutting down on the thickener... as you did:).
Thank you for stopping by.

Mihaela said...

De multe zile am vazut Ostropelul si mi-a ramas gandul la el...crezand ca am sa il incerc, dar...Am inceput homeschool cu copiii mei, asa ca timp de gatit mai putin(deocamdata)...Oricum, frumos si...suna asa de romaneste:

Ellie said...

Mihaela, Merci pentru vizita... Apreciez mult...stiu ca homeschooling nu este usor, si ca esti ocupata.
Totusi copiii sant mai de valoare si merita timpul acordat lor.

Poate intro zi o sa faci si ostropelul:)...este usor de facut si nu iti trebuie multe ingrediente.

Iti doresc o zi plina binecuvantata si har in a creste copiii:)

daniela said...

ellie, am gasit retetele tale pe net si am vrut sa-ti multumesc!!!!! am facut salata boeuf si ostropel pentru prietenii mei, aici in NY si mi-au cerut reteta. am incercat sa gasesc reteta in engleza (am fost prea lenesa s-o scriu eu...hihi) si am dat peste tine.
inca o data iti multumesc!
am si eu f multe retete de la noi din Romania si sper sa le impartasesc cat mai curand!
numai bine!

Ellie said...

Daniela, Cu placere...si iti multumesc pentru cuvintele calduroase!
Imi pare bine ca am putut sa te ajut nitel:). Stiu ca mancarea Romaneasca este buna:)...si daca putem impartasii cu cei dragi, cu atat mai bine:). Imi pare bine ca ai trecut pe la mine...sper ca blogul sa iti fie o inspiratie...

Iti dorec o zi minunata!

Anonymous said...

buna, i would like to know how many does this recipe serve?

Ellie said...

Anon, Oh I would venture to say about 4 persons...all depending how much one eats:). But, you can get a feel of the amount ... as only 2 half chicken breasts are used in this recipe. Hopefully that helps... Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellie, my mom loved to make ostropel back in Romania. We used to have it with "mamaliga" (i believe that Italian polenta is close enough to our mamaliga). I think that I will introduce my friends at church, here in Georgia, to the "ostropel". Thanks for the idea! Madi

Ellie said...

Madi, Yes, I agree the ostropel goes wonderfully well with mamaliga...I think any tomato based dish complements the polenta.
The dish itself is quite simple to prepare... a great way to introduce the Romanian cuisine to others...well, as long as they like garlic:).
Glad to have reminded you of this dish... my mom, too LOVED making this dish for us, though hers was always better:)
Thanks for stopping by...and hope everyone enjoys the dish:).

Dragan Lazin said...

Interesant...nu stiam ca se face ostropelul pe cu sos de rosii. Singurul fel in care am mancat Ostropelul, este cel Moldovenesc, care se incepe exact cum se face o supa de pui, doar ca o parte din supa se amesteca cu mujdei concentrat, si se serveste cu mamaliga. Unii pun si ceapa calita in Ostropel, si o lasa sa mai fiarba incet pana sa dizolva umpic.

Ellie said...

Dragan, Acest ostropel este asa cum il stiu eu de la mama mea...stiu ca majoritatea il fac si cu ceapa.
Dar rosii sau pasta de rosii este una din ingredientele necesare... Totusi poate sant si alte variante pe care eu nu le stiu( ca nu stiu tot:))...exemplul cel Moldovenesc pe care il descri...

Chiar asi vrea sa incerc si eu varianta ta. Cred ca merge asa de bine cu mujdeul facut din supa...chiar si cu ceapa.

Multumesc mult pentru ca ai impartasit un alt fel de ostropel...pe care eu nu il stiam:).
Multumesc pentru vizita...

Dragan Lazin said...


Este interesanta reteta mamei tale. Chiar vorbeam cu sotia mea depre ea. Problema cu reteta Moldoveneasca este ca Ostropelul trebuie facut foarte gras, altfel nu are gust bun (si ei il fac fara de rosii; la mine in Banat nu se prea face Ostropel). Varianta ta mi se pare mai atragatoare!

Ellie said...

Dragan, Apreciez mult ca iti place cum arata ostropelul, cred ca merita incercat si cu rosii...

Varianta care am postato eu aici este cu piept de pui, un pic differit(si mai slab nitel) de cel cum il facea mama mea. Mama il face cu pulpe de pui mai mult...si uneori si cu puiul de la supa fiert. Cam in stilul cum ziceai despre cel Moldovenesc... numai ca adauga si pasta de rosii care ingrosea si sosul. Nu stiu daca cel Modovanesc se ingroasa sosul nitel cu faina, sau ramine mai apos? Oricum, eu totusi vreu sa il incerc:),

Intradevar mancarurile din alte parti ale tarii se mai poate face si diferit. Asa cum ai spus, in alte parti nici nu se fac.

Interesant, ca eu totusi inca am ceva de invatat:)...

Multumesc pentru vizita incaodata.

Renee L. said...

Hello Ellie,

i stumbled upon your blog/recipe via Tastespotting, hence the late comment to this recipe. I have to laugh at myself because i thought i read that it was "Roman", as in Italian. That said, I've never had Romanian food before and this was SPECTACULAR! a great introduction to the cuisine and looking forward to trying more things from your blog. Thank you for posting.


Ellie said...

Renee, Oh, I am so glad you stumbled on the recipe... and gave it a go. I am thrilled that you enjoyed it! And you know, it means a bunch to me that this dish was your very first introduction to Romanian cuisine... glad you mistook it for being Italian:).
But thank you so much, Renee... for your kind comment and for your feedback. I really appreciate it!

george_lol said...

Hi Ellie. I didn't stumble upon your recipe. It was the first one that came up on my google search for an ostrapel recipe and i am very grateful. I'm an American living in Bucuresti and this is one of my favorite dishes here. I like to experiment with foods and for the most part do not generally like Romanian cuisine. I used your recipe as a base and did some slight modifications, namely adding the chimbru and some ardei iute (i love spicy food) to the flower and a little more chimbru later after I made the rue and added the chicken & broth. I also used a lot more tomato sauce/pasata and more usteroi as I love garlic. I am very happy with the results and thank you for posting this. Apparently you are Romanian and one thing surprised me in your commentary that you liked it with mashed potato rather than mamaliga, so I had it with mashed because that is my personal preference also. Since your post is more than 2 years old now I am sure that you have learned that chimbru is thyme (I mention this for the sake of non Romanian readers.) Thyme has always been one of my favorite spices.

Ellie said...

George, Ah, it must be tough living in Romania:), as an American. I'm sure you've had quite a bit of culture and food shock. But I'm glad you are making the best of it in regards to the food. As for ostropel, this version is bait different than the usual RO version... most people normally make it with diced tomatoes... our family makes that version also but we call it mancare de rosi(which I also posted). In any case, I'm thrilled that you made your own version, adjusting quantities and ingredients... because ultimately you want to like it:). Our family serves this dish over mashed potatoes, because it's more of a gravy... but the mancare de rosii we serve it with mamaliga.
As for the cimbru being thyme... well, I find it isn't exactly thyme. Thyme is a bit stronger... Summer savory is closer, though even it isn't really cimbru. However, most people do use thyme. But thanks so much, George for sharing and your feedback. Glad google sent you this way:)

Radu/E said...

Dear Ellie:
I happened upon your blog one day when I Googled "Placinta". I am so impressed with your blog. Your recipes have taken me waaaaay back to my childhood, when I spent time in my mother's kitchen asking questions and tasting her wonderful Romanian creations. I am so grateful that I did not forget what she taught me, and continue to this day to prepare some of my favourites.
Thank you for your delicious blog. Special gratitude for posting Castraveti Murati.

Ellie said...

Hi Radu, Thanks for your kind comment. I'm so glad to be of help... what would we do without google:).

Even though I don't have a traditional placinta on the blog(yet), I hope you will enjoy browsing through the other recipes. They might not be like the dishes you grew up with, but maybe you'll change a thing or two and make it your own.

It's wonderful to hear of the special times you had with your mom, learning dishes that will be with you for life. What a blessing to have such a wonderful mom:)!

Again, thanks for stopping by and I'm glad I could bring back a few memories for you... it's the memories that also inspire me to post.