I had been making lemon chicken breasts for years; a dish that my husband and I love and that we eat frequently. Then I came across this recipe by David Rosengarten and it was a bit different than the one that I had been using. His called for making a batter of egg, Romano or Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley. Once the chicken breasts had been dipped in the batter, they are then lightly coated with flour prior to sauteing. And, instead of adding lemon juice to the sauce that is made after the chicken pieces are cooked, he calls for boiling lemon slices in wine and chicken stock. Now I’m not really sure why this proved to create a much more flavorful sauce than my original recipe, but I think it may have to do with the oils in the lemon rind. Whatever caused it – the result is a luscious sauce.
Because the sauce is easy to make, the only real key to success here is to cook the chicken enough to develop crisp, browned sides but not to overcook it. How to accomplish that? First, pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness (1/4″ thick). Then, once the oil in the pan is good and hot, let the chicken cook until a white-ish border about 1/4″ thick has developed around the edges. This will probably take 2 – 5 minutes and should allow the chicken pieces to create a golden crust and wonderful flavor. Turn the pieces over and cook for another 2 minutes or so. (Timing depends on how thin you’ve pounded the breasts. You know the chicken is ready to turn when the white-ish border occurs and the second side will not take as long to cook as the first.)
Chicken Francaise (adapted from David Rosengarten)
Serves 2 (can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.)
- 2 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin. Cut into 4 even pieces.
- 2 Tbsp. Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 4 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
- 1 egg, beaten well
- flour for dredging
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 6 thin round slices of lemon, seeds removed
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
- Place cheese and 2 Tbsp. parsley in a wide, shallow bowl. Slowly add the beaten egg, whisking until it’s smoothly incorporated. Place the flour on a wide plate.
- Dip the pounded chicken in the egg mixture. Remove, letting excess egg drip off. Place each cutlet in the flour, and hold them in a single layer.
- Add the olive oil to a saute pan large enough to hold the 4 cutlets in a single layer. Place pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cutlets. Saute until the outer edges of the chicken becomes much paler in color (white-ish). When this occurs, 2 to 5 minutes depending on thinness of the cutlets, turn over (chicken should be golden brown) and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the cutlets and hold them in a single layer.
- Spill the oil out of the saute pan. Add the white wine and reduce it to 2 Tbsp. Add the chicken stock and the lemon slices. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove the lemon slices. Keep boiling the sauce until it’s reduced to about 1/2 cup. Turn heat to very low and swirl in the butter until the sauce is slightly thickened. Then add the reserved chicken, turning them until they are coated in sauce.
- Divide cutlets among 2 plates, pour remaining sauce over them and sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbsp. of parsley (which I forgot to do for the picture above) and serve immediately.