Monday, February 15, 2010

Chicken francaise

I never knew how to make this dish, despite the fact that it's one of my favorite ways to eat chicken and pasta. There's something about the velvety lemon sauce and the golden brown chicken cutlets that really speaks to me. I order it often in restaurants, but I had never tried to make it at home.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you, I have still not tried to make it at home. But I have helped to prepare it twice now at a friend's house using her mother's recipe—and yes, it is delicious and surprisingly simple.

If you are more organized than we are, you will defrost your chicken cutlets well in advance. You will be sure to have fresh lemon and parsley on hand and plenty of vegetable oil. But then, the two times we have made this dish together, my friend and I have somehow managed to overcome our lack of organizational skills by raiding both of our kitchens for ingredients and/or calling her mom to rescue us. Needless to say, I recommend making this with a friend (by upping the amounts we fed six adults and three children) and having a nice bottle or two of wine on hand.

Here's what you need for four servings:

2 full boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half and split in half (@ 8 pieces thinly sliced)
egg and flour to coat the chicken

1 cup of chicken broth
1/3 cup of lemon juice
pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of cold water

Okay. Ready?

To prepare the chicken, dip each piece in egg and then coat in flour seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.

In a heavy skillet or frying pan, heat 1/3 cup of oil (we used canola) and 3 tablespoons of butter. Don't pay attention to that enormous stick of butter in the photo, remember when we prepared this meal we tripled the recipe to feed a crowd. You might, however, need to add more butter and oil as you are frying depending on how many cutlets you have, so use your judgment.

Fry the cutlets until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Be careful not to let the oil and butter burn, since you'll be using it as the base for your sauce. Yes, we made this mistake the first time we prepared this meal and had to dump our frying oil and start over. Consider yourself warned: keep an eye on the heat.

Put the cooked chicken on a dish and keep warm. In the same frying pan, whisk in the chicken broth, lemon juice, pepper to taste and dijon mustard. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir in the cornstarch.

Add the fresh parsley and continue stirring until the sauce thickens.

To serve, arrange the chicken on top of thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta and pour the sauce over it. Extra sauce can be served on the side. Garnish with fresh lemon slices.

We served this with peas, a salad and a loaf of crusty bread. For the kids, we kept the sauce separate, and even my picky "no sauce" son was happy with his plain cutlet and pasta with butter. I have to tell you, I could eat this twice a week. I'm pretty sure it's the lemon. I love anything with lemon. Must be the Californian in me. Enjoy!


  1. I could eat this EVERY day and not tire of it. Lemon. Butter. Chicken. YUM!

  2. Oh, my god, this looks fantastic! I can't wait to make it.

  3. I have always wanted to learn to make this. This is the kind of fresh something something that I needed to see so i can do something (ANYTHING) different with my chicken.

    Niksmom -what kind of GF flour would you use?

  4. @goodfountain I'd use a sorghum blend or maybe even just plain sorghum. IMO, rice and tapioca flours get too gummy when used for pan frying that involves any egg or liquids. The times I've tried them, I always end up with more flour left in the pan than on the meat.

    Although, you *could* use something like crushed rice chex. I recently made chicken milanese (similar but no egg and no mustard, sub capers for parsley and add a dash of white wine) using chex and it worked fine.

  5. This is my absolute favorite meal...I think this should be a Friday night tradition! Cooking is way more fun when you do it with a friend!