Chicken Francese

chicken francese with whole wheat spaghetti

Pete Scherer 

  • Total: 55 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Yields: 4 pieces

Chicken Francese is an Italian-American restaurant dish that's easy to recreate at home. Pounded chicken breasts coated in simple breading are pan fried until golden brown, then drenched in a rich lemon sauce and garnished with cooked lemon slices and fresh parsley. Serve with pasta and a vegetable or salad for a complete, satisfying meal.

Ingredients

  • For the Chicken:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus extra for pan)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for pan)
  • For the Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
  • 1 large lemon (sliced into 1/4-inch cross sections and seeded)
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • For Garnish:
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Using a sharp knife, divide the chicken breasts in half (or thirds if the breasts are especially large). You want large chunks, not strips, so slice the breasts crosswise, perpendicular to the grain of the muscle.

  3. Put one of the chicken chunks into a 1-gallon plastic freezer bag, but don’t seal the closure. (If you don’t have such a bag, you can also sandwich the chicken between two layers of plastic wrap or parchment paper.) Using a rolling pin, mallet, or similar blunt object, lightly pound the meat to flatten it to an even thickness of about 1/2 inch. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. Set aside.

  4. Crack the eggs into a bowl or dish. You’ll be dipping the chicken pieces into this so choose a dish that's wide enough. Add the milk and scramble with a whisk.

  5. Add the flour, salt, and pepper to another dish of similar size. Combine well.

  6. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the skillet.

  7. When the butter has finished foaming, dredge one of the chicken pieces in the flour mixture. Dip the dredged piece into the egg, then back once more in the seasoned flour. Place the breaded chicken in the pan. Repeat until the pan is full, but not crowded, maybe 2 to 4 pieces depending on size. Fry chicken until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, around 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding extra butter and oil for frying as needed. Remove cooked chicken to a sheet pan or large platter and set aside.

  8. Prepare the sauce. With caution, wipe the grease and debris from the pan with paper towels or use another large pan if you don’t mind the extra cleaning. Set over medium heat and add half the butter. When the foam subsides, add the lemon slices. Sauté until the rind browns slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the lemon.

  9. Add the minced onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes.

  10. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 or 3 minutes more.

  11. Add the wine, lemon juice, and chicken stock. Whisking periodically, bringing the sauce to a low boil. Reduce the sauce until it is a little more than half its original volume and somewhat thickened like gravy, about 10 minutes.

  12. When the sauce has reduced, turn the heat to low, add the remaining butter and whisk to incorporate as it melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  13. Put the cooked chicken cutlets into the pan with the sauce. Turn to coat. When the chicken is warmed through, remove from heat and garnish with the sautéed lemon slices and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.