Chicken French has everything I love in a recipe. It's delicious and easy, frugal, yet fancy, and everyone loves it. Better yet, it has a vague, confusing history and completely preposterous name.
This not-French recipe hails from the Rochester area of New York State, where it's a staple on virtually every Italian-American restaurant menu. It's something of a mystery why this recipe would have exploded in popularity in this one city in particular, but that's exactly what happened.
The origins of the recipe go something like this. Italian cooks in northern Italy have a sautéed veal dish called vitello francese, which uses a wine/lemon/butter pan sauce similar to ones used in France. The recipe comes to New York City with the first wave of Italian-American immigrants, where it becomes known by the locals as "Veal French."
Eventually, the recipe migrates to Rochester's large Italian-American community, where chicken is substituted for the more expensive and harder to find veal. The rest, as they say, is history – delicious, tender, moist, buttery history.
Since I'm from the Rochester, NY area, it's a little surprising I haven’t done this one already. Thankfully, a wonderful dinner at my Aunt Joyce's on a recent trip home caused me to realize I hadn’t yet immortalized this hometown favorite. I really hope you give it a try. Enjoy!
Ingredients for about 4-6 portions:
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 eggs, plus 2 tablespoon milk, beaten
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
cayenne to taste
2 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon butter for sautéing
For the sauce:
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup good white wine or dry sherry
1 cup vegetable broth or chicken stock
4 tablespoon cold butter, cut in cubes
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste