May 16, 2013

The Amazing Rochestarian Chicken French

Although I'm in Chicago now, I occasionally get a tad homesick for the beautiful land of Upstate New York.  I grew up in a suburb of Rochester, near the Finger Lakes.  Most of my friends here, if they know it at all, know it for the casinos. Which I did not realize was that much of a thing.  But it is a stunning countryside with lots of lakes and trees and farms and our little city in the middle.

Food-wise, we're close enough to have fantastic Buffalo wings- or as we call them wings. Which should only be served with bleu cheese, for the record.  When restaurants ask if I want ranch it just makes me sad I even tried to order them in the first place.  

We also have the Garbage Plate- a late night/hangover staple that is as bad for you as it is delicious.  Home-fries and mac salad, with two meats of your choice (I go with cheeseburgers), all smothered in meat sauce.  So good.  

But the focus of tonight's post before I get myself even more distracted is the Rochester classic Chicken French.  From some rigorous research on google I can tell you that everyone had a different story.  The best was that some italians invented it at a world's fair in New York City in 1939 to attract customers to buy it as french cuisine was all the rage.  However it came to be, somehow this stuck in Rochester but no where else.  It's a standard at Italian restaurants throughout Upstate.  I didn't realize it was actually a Rochester thing until I had a hell of a time hunting down a recipe online.  I've taken a few into my cookbook as reference, but it always ends up with me winging it in the end.

Regardless of how it came into being, Chicken French is delicious.  It's a light egg-battered chicken in a white wine, lemon, garlic, and butter sauce that's usually served over spaghetti (but also makes quite the scrumptious sandwich).  


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
fresh shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
olive oil
chicken base
lemon juice
white wine
minced garlic

Let's start with that chicken.  We are very lucky to have some fresh from the local butcher from Joe's hometown in Ohio.  The meat is so much tender and soft and delicious when it's fresh meat from an actual farm.

Anyways, it's supposed to be beaten, but we don't have that kind of facilities in our kitchen so we just slice them thin.

Then set up your dipping supplies.  In one bowl mix flour, salt and pepper.  In the next whisk a few eggs.  I add freshly shredded parmesan to the egg too.

Heat a large sauce pan with olive oil in the bottom.

Dip the chicken in the flour mixture on both sides, then in the egg, and place it in the pan.

Cook about 6 minutes on each side, or until the middle isn't pink anymore.

First round cooked?  Put it in a dish in the oven on low to keep warm while your others cook.

Once all your chickies have made it through the pan and into the oven it's time to make that sauce.

Use the pan you just cooked your chicken in and add the following:  minced/fresh garlic, chicken base, white wine, and a little butter.  Add water if it's too strong, and flour if it's too thin.

It doesn't start out pretty but it gets there.  It's a thin sauce to end up with.  I had high hopes of measuring what I added, but I basically just pour things in, and then adjust it to my personal taste.

My wine of choice was the Trader Joe's Vinas Chilena's Sauvignon Blanc.  Mostly because it was the only white left in my fridge, but it turned out great.  They say you should use a dry white wine (or sherry- but who drinks that?).  I swear it's actually pretty good for a cheap wine.  I haven't liked those Charles Shaw wines they sell for like $3, but this Chilean one works for me.  As my daddy would say, I have a taste for the New World wines.

Cook your spaghetti at some point.  If it's done early just toss it with a little bit of olive oil.  I made a mountain by accident.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and pasta.  For the extras, I just pour the rest of the sauce into the dish with the chicken and keep it in the turned off oven while we ate.

And that's it! Pretty simple, you only dirty two dishes and a noodle pot, and it's really really delicious. 
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