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Chicken Francese, (Chicken French), is a popular restaurant quality dish you can make at home with tender chicken cutlets nestled in a buttery, lemon pan sauce.
It’s about this time each year I start craving all things lemon. Lemon is a great way to brighten up the day with a little sunshine on a plate. The dreary days of winter are here but that doesn’t mean our dinners have to be dreary too! Queue this delicious, easy, wonderfully different chicken dish your whole family will love.
Use skinless, boneless chicken breasts or store-bought chicken cutlets for this recipe.
Chicken cutlets are a great quick dinner tool. The cutlets cook through in about 10 minutes leaving a tender, moist, thin breast that soaks up plenty of flavor from the buttery, lemon wine sauce. If you can’t find prepared cutlets in your local grocery store make your own by slicing boneless breasts in half. For easy preparation and slicing, freeze the chicken breasts for about 15 minutes before cutting in half. Don’t worry if each cutlet is a little different size, there’s no need for them to be perfect.
‘Francese’ means French in Italian, however this lemony chicken dish is an Italian-American creation.
The basis for this recipe was brought to America by Italian immigrants, and may have been created as a less expensive alternative to Veal Francese. Recipes for Chicken Francese are similar to another popular dish, Chicken Piccata. Chicken cutlets are dredged in seasoned flour, dipped in eggs, then back in the flour before pan frying until golden brown. The sauce is made in the same pan with a full 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, butter, dry white wine and chicken broth. This dish requires the right amount of salt to bring out all the flavors, so be sure to check the seasoning before serving.
The buttery lemon pan sauce is great served over pasta.
Serve Chicken Francese with a simple steamed vegetable and plenty of hot spaghetti for a complete, satisfying meal. Garnish with sautéed thin sliced lemons, chopped parsley and fresh ground black pepper for picture perfect Chicken Francese! Enjoy 🙂
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Chicken Francese Recipe (Chicken French)
For the chicken:
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 6-8 chicken cutlets)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the sauce:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- ¼ cup minced sweet onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 juicy lemons)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or chicken stock)
- salt and pepper to taste
- minced fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
- sliced lemon, for garnish
To create chicken cutlets:
- Line a small baking sheet with wax paper. Remove the rib meat/tenderloin from the breasts. Reserve for another use or cook with the cutlets. Place the chicken breasts on the pan and freeze for 15 minutes. This step makes it easier to slice the breasts creating cutlets. Hold the breasts firmly against the cutting board with one hand. Using a sharp chef’s knife, carefully cut the breasts in half horizontally with the knife parallel to the cutting board. If you purchased chicken cutlets, skip this step.
To prepare the chicken:
- While preparing the chicken, set a pot of water over medium high heat for the pasta.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Set aside. Combine the salt, pepper and flour in a separate shallow bowl and place next to the egg wash. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons butter and two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until the butter is melted and the foaming stops. Using tongs, dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour mixture shaking off the excess. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture allowing the extra egg to drip back into the bowl. Transfer to the flour once again, turning to coat. Shake off the extra flour and place in the hot skillet. Cook 2 or 3 cutlets at a time, turning once, until the chicken is well browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to the prepared paper-towel lined baking sheet. Repeat, adding more butter and olive oil if needed until all chicken is cooked. Set chicken aside. Discard the grease and wipe out the skillet with clean paper towels.
To prepare the lemon sauce:
- Add 3 tablespoons butter to the now empty skillet over medium heat. Add the minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir for 2 minutes. Add the wine, lemon juice and chicken broth. Increase the temperature to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until it is reduced to about 1 ½ cups and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove the onions if desired. Return the sauce to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Add the last tablespoon of butter to the sauce. Stir gently until melted. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. The lemon flavor will be intense.
- Cook your pasta, if using.
- Add the chicken cutlets to the sauce and heat gently for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once, or until heated through. Top the chicken with sautéed lemon slices and garnish with minced parsley and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
Looking for a few more easy chicken recipes? Try our classic Chicken Piccata recipe. With a light lemon sauce and plenty of briny capers, this tasty chicken will be a family favorite. For a unique and delicious change of pace, enjoy our delicious Chicken Fricassee with Apples made with gently stewed chicken breasts in a creamy white sauce with chicken broth, apple cider and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Onions and apples give this dish a light fresh sweetness and plenty of complex flavor.
And finally, you’ll love this super fast and easy Spicy Honey Lime Chicken Thigh Recipe. Made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, it cooks quickly and is finished in a delicious garlic infused sauce that’s sticky, sweet and spicy. We’ve got so much flavor going on here … nothing boring about this chicken dinner!
Thanks so much for stopping by! Tricia