I’m not sure what it is, but it seems that when I want something quick, easy, and tasty, I fall back on Italian-style food. This week’s not-actually-Italian-but-common-in-Italian-restaurants food: chicken francaise (but doesn’t “francaise” mean French?).
This version of the dish has a light and delicate sauce that packs a surprising amount of punch. The core ingredients are some very Mediterranean flavors: white wine, lemon, capers, and parsely with broth standing firm as the backbone. Of all of those components, I really like to try to highlight the lemon in a big way–it brings a vibrant, fresh flavor, and if you can get any great produce in Florida, its citrus 😉 . The capers bring that peculiar salty sweetness (not quite sure how I’d describe their taste) to the dish and the parsely just gives that earthiness that you need to temper the lemon. Like chicken marsala, the core idea to preparing this dish is simple: thin sliced meat, tasty breading, and sauteeing in a really flavorful sauce. This is also my entry in this week’s edition of Weekend Herb Blogging, held by Kalyn over at Kalyn’s Kitchen.
- 1-1.5 lbs chicken breast, sliced thinly
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 stick of butter
- 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 3 lemons
- 1/2-1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp capers
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1-2 good handfuls of flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves
- a few (e.g. 5-10) fresh basil leaves
- a few (e.g. 1 sprig) fresh oregano leaves
- black pepper
Finely mince the garlic cloves and fry them briefly (no more than 5 minutes) in some olive oil on medium heat to round out the flavor a little bit.
While that’s going, finely chop up the fresh herbs. Parsely is one of the big players here, and in reading about it, I learned a number of interesting things. For instance, I never bother using curly parsely as I feel it doesn’t do much flavor-wise, but apparently, curly is preferred as flat-leaf parsely is confused with poison hemlock. Good argument to grown your own (hopefully mine grows a little fuller next year) or go to the grocery store, I suppose?
In a bowl, you’ll want to mix the herbs, the fried garlic, white wine, and chicken broth. Then, the crowning touch, grate in some lemon zest from two of your lemons and then juice them as well. For the longest time, I never understood the point of zesting citrus fruits. It seemed like a hassle when you could just as easily juice them. Well the interesting thing is how the flavors hold up. The skin of a lemon contains a lot of very flavorful oils with a very distinct lemon flavor, and this holds up well in heat. Lemon juice on the other hand, isn’t quite as in your face and will fare a little differently under heat. In the end, there’s only two undesireable, bitter parts to lemons: the seeds and the white pith between the skin and the flesh. So with the zest and the juice combined, this sauce will have a very full lemon flavor that lasts and also gets a chance to mix in with everything else we’ve got going on. Set this bowl aside.
Set aside a bowl with about a cup of breading and another bowl with a beaten egg.
Trim and slice your chicken thinly (or flatten it out with a meat mallet–whatever your style), dip in egg, and dredge in the breading. You don’t need to worry about heavily breading the chicken. Just get it reasonably covered.
Fry the chicken in olive oil and butter for roughly 10 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked (depends on thickness). Flip once or twice to prevent any unattractive burning.
Once the chicken is cooked, pour in the sauce mixture. You’re going to want to simmer this on low/medium heat while covered for roughly 20 minutes. At this point, squeeze in the juice from the remaining lemon (remember, we called for three and you’d only used two earlier!).
Continue to simmer until the sauce reduces a good bit, roughly 30-40 minutes total. Yyou don’t want the sauce to get all tacky and dry–just thickened and sauce-like.
Plate the chicken and ladle on a little bit of extra sauce. I served with a side of creamy garlic pasta and a sad looking lemon garnish 😉 (in retrospect, a long spiraled peel would have looked a lot nicer). Enjoy!