Pollo Francese is usually seen on menus in english because it seems hard to trace it's roots back to Italy. And when you start talking about the history of the dish, the former "Brown Derby" always comes up in the conversation. For a full history, just google Karen Miltner's 2005 article about the subject (I did put the link here, because it appears to be part of some "pay for" library on the local paper's website).
The highlights are as follows. Looks like it started as a veal dish, either in the northern section of Italy, or perhaps somewhere here in the states. The local restaurant changed it to chicken when the morally fickle public turned against veal. He added artichokes to the dish, and soon customers started asking for more of those. Now we can "french" anything.
- 2 lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - I split them horizontally so they are even and thin.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil for frying
- 1/4 lb (one stick) unsalted butter
- 2 lemons - zest and juice needed.
- !/2 cup Sherry wine - You can use another dry white wine, if you want to experiment
- Fresh garlic is also an option when you make the sauce. I prefer mine without.
- One more lemon for garish
Start by slicing your chicken breast lengthwise, so you have thinner and consistent sizes for frying.
Next prepare your breading station, just 2 parts in this recipe. Place your eggs in one bowl, and whisk. Combine your flour, salt, pepper, and Parmesan in the next bowl and mix thoroughly.
Set up a frying pan on medium high heat large enough to hold half of the cut chicken. Add your oil to warm up while you prep the chicken.
Dip the chicken in the egg mixture and hold over the bowl to drain well. Now run the chicken through flour mixture and let excess flour fall off. Place on a separate plate and continue with chicken until you have enough to fill the frying pan with one layer.
Place the chicken in the frying pan carefully and cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, or until the chicken reaches a golden brown color on each side. I like to prepare the next batch of chicken while the first is frying. Flip the chicken once, and remove to a clean plate when done.
The chicken can be prepared ahead of time and finished when you are ready to serve dinner.
The sauce is where we find some controversy in the recipe. Amounts and type of alcohol vary, and I am a big fan of finding your own sweet spot through experimentation. My recipe is a little lemon friendly, but I like it that way.
I have used the same frying pan (with most of the excess oil removed, but not the "bits" from the breading). On a medium heat level, add the butter and let melt in the pan. When the butter is almost melted, add the lemon zest and juice. Let sit for a about 2 minutes and them add the wine. Turn up the heat to a medium high, and let the sauce reduce and thicken.
The final step is to add the chicken to the sauce and finish cooking the meat through, about 5 minutes. The sauce will incorporate into the breading some, and the rest should be served over the chicken.
Serve immediately. I have used a spinach and fusilli pasta dish
here to brighten up my plate and grated some more parmesan when presented.
Enjoy a Rochester Favorite!!