I'm sure many people assume that a married man who cooks probably has a wife that does not or at least does not cook very well. Nothing could be farther from the truth in my home. My wife is a great cook. This week for instance, she made a wonderful Chicken Francese while my sister and her husband were visiting us.
She adapted a recipe from David Rosengarten's cookbook, Taste. First a word about Rosengarten. He had a program on the Food Network called Taste that was on in the 90s. For my money, it was the best program that network has ever had. Anyway, his cookbook offers some great recipes as well as detailed information about the background of each dish. Here is what Rosengarten says about francese dishes, "I think alla francese got invented (by Italian-Americans) at a time when Italian restaurants were feeling distinctly inferior to French Restaurants....Chicken Francese is...lovely slices of meat, sauteed to light golden brown in a delicate batter served with a wisp of winy sauce sometimes accented with lemon -- at their best...offering a startling harmony of subtle flavors. A good francese is one of the world's best-balanced main courses."
Lisa's version departed somewhat from Rosengarten's most significantly in the substitution of sherry for white wine (because it is what was on-hand) and the addition of juniper berries (because we've got a large tin of them from Dean & Deluca's and can't seem to use them up). Here is her recipe.
Chicken Francese with Lemon and Pecorino
- 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 heaping tablespoons finely grated pecorino cheese
- 4 tablespoons very finely chopped parsley leaves
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- Flour for dredging
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 6 thin slices of lemon, seeds removed
- 6 dried juniper berries
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the chicken breasts between sheets of wax paper and pound with a mallet until they are very thin. Season with salt and pepper. Place the cheese and two tablespoons of parsley in a wide, shallow bowl (we used a pie plate) Slowly add the beaten eggs, whisking until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Place the flour in another wide bowl (or another pie plate). Dip the chicken in the egg mixture. Remove them, making sure the excess egg drips off. Place each piece of chicken in the flour and coat lightly. Remove the chicken form the flour and place them, in a single layer, on a platter.
Add the olive oil to a saute pan and heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the chicken in a single layer. Saute, turning once, until the chicken is golden brown. Use a instant-read probe thermometer, if needed, to be sure the internal temperature is 170 degrees. This should take about two minutes per side.
Set the cooked chicken aside and drain the oil form the pan. Return the pan to high heat and add the sherry, scraping the pan, and reducing the sherry by half. Add the chicken stock and lemon slices and boil for five minutes, then remove the lemon slices. Keep the sauce simmering another couple of minutes then reduce the heat to low. Add the butter, swirling it in and whisking until the sauce is thick. Return the chicken to the pan, and turn to coat both sides with the sauce. Plate the chi ken and pour any remaining sauce on the chicken.Garnish with the remaining parsley ans serve immediately.