Grief Recipe Stories: Pollo Agrodolce (Sweet & Sour Italian Chicken)

Grief Recipe Stories / Grief Recipe Stories : Eleanor Haley


by Laurie Burrows Grad

After losing Peter, her husband of forty-seven years, Laurie Burrows Grad began blogging about grief, widowhood, and survival. She has published over 130 blogs about grief as a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Thrive Global.  Her website www.lauriegrad.com has helped widows all over the globe. Grad is a cookbook author and television chef by profession as well as the author of THE JOKE’S OVER, YOU CAN COME BACK NOW: How This Widow Plowed Through Grief and Survived. Ms. Grad also serves on the board of OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center, a Los Angeles grief center.


After my husband of forty-seven years died, I lost my desire to be innovative in the kitchen.  I dined out a lot, but just didn’t have the chops (insert cringe at pun here) to cook dinner for myself.

As a food writer, who concentrated on healthful cooking, it took quite a while for me to enjoy being creative in my kitchen.  Before my husband Peter died, I used to love to visit the Farmers’ Markets and create meals based on what was seasonably available.  I missed the impetus to get my creative culinary juices flowing.  For about eight months, I drowned my sorrows with chocolate, more chocolate, and popcorn.  This was definitely not healthy fare!

I started to enjoy cooking again when I began to entertain.  I had to repay people for their kindnesses in treating me to wonderful restaurant dinners.  I started with my old standbys, like butterflied roast chicken, rack of lamb, turkey chili, and coq au vin.  I bought pieces of salmon and tried to roast them in new ways, especially with cilantro (Peter’s nemesis). 

When a widow or widower is entertaining alone, you no longer have a partner to help you in the kitchen.  You have to be clever and prepare a lot in advance so that you are not hassled.  Braised dishes and stews are the perfect items to prepare since they can be cooked well in advance and frozen. 

The first time I set the table for a dinner party, I put out six placemats instead of five.  I fell to the floor in a puddle of tears.  I picked myself up, dusted myself off, managed to get through the evening, cooked a fantastic and fun dinner, and received tons of kudos from my guests. 

Here is my recipe for my chicken agrodolce which is guaranteed to make you a successful entertainer with ease.

[tasty-recipe id=”117891″]

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6 Comments on "Grief Recipe Stories: Pollo Agrodolce (Sweet & Sour Italian Chicken)"

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  1. Lagatta de Montréal  February 5, 2020 at 9:30 am Reply

    This sounds delicious. Since I live in Montréal, I think I’d sub a tablespoon of maple syrup for the white sugar (there is very little white sugar chez moi, just a few packets I swipe from cafés if I need a bit for working with yeast). I think a friend nearby, widowed less than a year ago, would love some of this braise. I don’t feel guilty about swiping a sugar packet because I don’t sugar coffee or tea.

    By the way, thighs, not thights. I was imagining chicken legs in tights, but they’d have to be bone-in!

  2. Laura Higgins  February 4, 2020 at 10:43 am Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, and your recipe. The part where you described setting 6 places instead of 5 really touched me. So many of us have those moments when by habit or reflex (or in my case, momentary forgetting – instantly followed by devastating remembering) we do something that we always used to do, to include our connect to our loved one. Thanks for sharing your moment like that with us.

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