Chicken Francese, or Chicken Française, stands as a beloved classic in Italian-American cuisine, renowned for its harmonious blend of tender chicken and a vibrant lemon-infused sauce. The distinguishing feature of Chicken Francese lies in its zestful and tangy sauce, crafted with lemons, chicken broth, and white wine, resulting in a lively and refreshing flavour profile. In this particular version, I’m presenting Chicken Francese atop a bed of guanciale mash, accompanied by crispy asparagus and sweet peppers for a delightful and well-rounded dining experience.
While Chicken Francese holds a prominent place in Italian-American culinary traditions, it’s should be noted that francese is not a traditional dish or sauce in classical Italian cuisine.
For the guanciale mash, I opt for a blend of regular potatoes and sweet potatoes to add nuanced flavours. To create a contrast and avoid excessive richness, I refrain from using cream or milk, considering the inherent richness of Chicken Francese and the contribution of guanciale to the overall richness.
- 700g potatoes, peeled and cut into rough chunks
- 400g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- Chicken stock (enough to cover the potatoes and sweet potatoes. You can use inexpensive of the shelf stock here)
- ½ onion, peeled and diced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 50g guanciale, cut into small ½cm cubes
- 15g chives, roughly chopped
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or fine nutmeg powder)
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 30g grated Parmesan (or other hard Italian cheese)
Place the potatoes and sweet potatoes in a medium-sized pot, covering them with chicken stock. Bring to a medium boil and cook until they are soft enough to be easily pierced by a fork.
Remove the pot from the heat and strain, ensuring to retain the stock.
In the same pot, over medium heat, fry the guanciale until it turns golden. Add the onions, garlic, nutmeg, and black pepper. Continue cooking over medium heat until the onions are soft and take on a slight brown hue.
Reduce the oven heat to low, incorporate the potatoes and sweet potatoes, and mash to achieve the desired texture using a masher.
Add 150ml to 250ml (depending on the desired consistency) of the reserved strained stock and mix thoroughly.
Gently fold in the Parmesan and chives.
Cover the pot and turn off the heat.
- 4 large chicken breast fillets (skinless and boneless), cut in half lengthwise
- For the flour mix
- 125ml all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 2 tsp salt
- 1½ tsp white pepper
- 50ml olive oil
- 1 lemon sliced in 3mm slices
- 50g butter
- 125ml Chardonnay wine
- 500ml quality chicken stock
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- Salt to taste
- Parsley for garnish
Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl, then set aside.
For the flour coating, mix flour, salt, and pepper on a plate. Coat each chicken piece in the flour mixture, shaking off excess, and set aside on a plate.
Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
Dip each chicken piece in the egg, allowing excess to drip off, then place it in the pan. Cook until deep golden on both sides. Try to turn the chicken only once. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the lemon slices to the pan. Cook until the lemons soften or turn brown; then flip and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove to a plate.
Using the same pan and still on medium heat, melt butter in the pan. Add flour and stir for 1 minute using a wooden spoon. While stirring, slowly pour in half of the stock. Once the flour is dissolved into the liquid, stir in the remaining stock, followed by the wine.
Increase the heat slightly and simmer until the sauce thickens to a syrupy consistency.
Adjust the salt.
Place the cooked chicken and lemon slices back into the pan. Spoon the sauce generously over the chicken. Serve the chicken on a bed of mash and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
I also added fresh asparagus and sweet peppers, which I stir-fried with only salt and freshly ground black pepper.
We served this with a 2021 Rooiberg Chardonnay Reserve which went very well with this dish.
The tasting notes for the 2022 vintage, can be found below: