Monday, November 8, 2010
Chicken Francaise with Roasted Asparagus
This weekend, the husband and I went out to my grandparents house in Toms River, New Jersey (Yes. It's near the jersey shore). It was a quite a lovely visit. My grandparents are both Italian, and they very much prove that fact within 3 minutes of talking to them. Their favorite subject is food. My grandpa loves to rave about my grandmothers cooking, and my grandmother loves to talk about how little she likes most others cooking, but loves her own. In New Jersey, there are delis everywhere. Butchers ready to give you their own soppressata, prosciutto, or pancetta. It's a luxury that we don't have here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Needless to say, after our visit, all we wanted to do was make a soppressata, roasted red pepper and mozzarella sandwich (please pronounce that as "soop-re-sod and mootz a dell"), have home made "gravy", and eat copious amounts of Italian bread. But one recipe in particular was begging me to cook it at home. That was chicken francaise. My grandma made it the first night we were there, however she made hers with a pre-made sauce. This is absolutely unheard of for her, so we knew it had to be tasty. She used Victoria's Chicken Francese sauce. It was definitely delicious. She said she prefers to make her own, but at 4 dollars at her local grocery store, and making it as an entertainment dish, it pays for itself. When you figure in the wine, lemons, capers, etc. (not to mention the time you'll be spending away from your guests), it will definitely be over 4 dollars. But as with all jarred sauces, when I try them, I think of ways to make it better. This obviously runs in the family, because my grandma hardly just used a jar of sauce. She sauteed up some lemons, added fresh parsley, and had her cutlets already tasting like perfection. The sauce was really quite good. She served it to us with Italian bread, roasted potatoes and a fresh veggie medley. Not to mention, she was only away from us for all of 20 minutes. It really hit the spot.
Honestly though, I rarely like to use jarred sauces. I tend to find that when it comes to anything acidic, it just tastes...fake. I don't mean that it's not good, I just don't get the same brightness as you typically do when it's freshly made. My husband actually made that notice tonight, and I completely agree with him. That is not to say there's anything wrong with using them, I'd just rather make my own. So that's what I did! I paired it with roasted asparagus and roasted fingerling potatoes. I do hope that I'd make my grandma proud. After all, she rarely eats anything not made by herself :). Oh us crazy Italians. Enjoy!
Time from start to finish: about 30 minutes
4 boneless, skinless Chicken Cutlets (or breasts) pounded to about 1/4 inch thickness
1/2 Lemon, sliced thinly
1 cup Chicken Stock
3 Tbsp Butter
About 1 cup Flour
2 tsps Capers
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup dry White Wine (I used Chardonnay)
4 cloves Garlic, minced or grated
1 Shallot, diced finely
Chopped Parsley for garnish (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Prepare your chicken. Trim it, use your meat tenderizer (or the bottom of a heavy glass, as I like to use!), and set it aside. Take your two eggs and beat them together in a shallow bowl. Make a little assembly line: chicken, a piece of foil with flour, salt and pepper mixed together, and then your egg wash. Over medium high heat, melt 1 Tbsp of butter into the 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. When your oil is hot, dip your chicken in the flour, then the egg, and then fry until golden on one side - about 2 minutes. Continue frying until the chicken is cooked the whole way through, another 2-3 minutes total . Repeat this in batches until your chicken is all cooked, and place on a paper towel lined dish. Cover with foil to keep warm. I actually cleaned my pan after this. I just didn't want my sauce looking brown from all the chicken browning. Lowering the pan to medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp butter into 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Once the butter is melted, add in the lemon slices. Cook on one side about a minute, flip, and cook the other side another minute. Add the garlic and shallot and cook about 30 seconds until tender. Add the wine, chicken stock, capers and the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter. I coated the butter in flour so it would thicken the sauce. Bring this up to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Taste before salting, as the capers are salty. Salt and pepper the sauce. Chop up your parsley if using. Once your sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add your chicken back to the sauce, add half of your parsley and stir and flip your chicken so it's got a nice coating. Serve it topped with the sauce, lemon slices and the remaining parsley. Eat right away.
Time from start to finish: About 30 minutes
1 bundle fresh Asparagus
1 Lemon, halved. One half sliced thinly, the other half for juicing
Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take one asparagus spear and lightly bend it until it snaps. Discard the bottom and use the top with the spear as a measuring guide. Trim your asparagus to roughly the same length. Get a cookie sheet, and lay the lemon slices down. In a medium mixing bowl, put asparagus spears, salt, pepper, oil and squeeze the remaining half of lemon on top. Toss to coat, and lay in a line on the baking sheet, on top of the lemon slices. Roast about 20-25 minutes, until the asparagus is fork tender.