comfort food / recipes with wine pairings

Chicken Francaise… recipe and wine pairings

Chicken Francaise

So the other day my darling wife picked up some chicken breasts while she was shopping at her favorite place in the world, Target (or as we pronounce it, Tar-jay, everything sounds fancier with a French accent). Seriously, Target to her is what Disney World is to other people, the most magical place on Earth. I swear that she purposefully “forgets” things when she goes shopping just to have an excuse to go back! Anyway, I digress… She picked up chicken breasts. I took a quick look at my pantry and fridge (am I the only one that hears Ted Allen’s voice?) to see what I could come up with, and a few items in particular jumped out at me: eggs, lemons, white wine, butter. Wait a second, duh, francaise sauce! Chicken Francaise is simply chicken dredged in flour and eggs finished with a lemon, white wine and butter sauce. It sounds fancy, it tastes delicious, and it’s ridiculously easy to make. So here you have it.

On the side I served some ricotta gnocchi with onion, mushrooms and peas, finished with shaved parmesan. If you’re interested in trying your hand at homemade ricotta gnocchi you can find my recipe here!

Note: Making this for two people and making it for more than two are very different things. Sauté pans are only so big and there are only so many pieces of chicken you can fit in them. Since I’m guessing that most people reading this are looking to make dinner for more than two people I’ll write the recipe that way… The main difference is that if you’re just cooking for two you can make the chicken and sauce together in one pan, but if you’re making it for more you ultimately need to do them separately unless you have an insanely large pan, or are using the smallest chicken breasts I’ve ever seen. 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1tbsp Olive Oil
4 Chicken Breast, lightly pounded
1c All Purpose Flour
2 Large Eggs, beaten
2 Clove Garlic, chopped
2 Large Shallot, chopped
2 Lemons
1 1/2c Dry White Wine
2c Chicken Stock
1tsp + 1/2tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
8tbsp (1 stick) Unsalted Butter

Heat your oven to 300F.

Again, I am assuming that your sauté pan can only handle two pounded chicken breast at a time, so you’ll have to cook your chicken in two batches if you’re making four.

Ok so first thing’s first, you need to lightly pound your chicken breast to thin them out. Place the breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap, and using either the flat side of a kitchen mallet, or a rolling pin, lightly pound them out until you have a uniform thickness of roughly 1/2″. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan at medium-high. Thoroughly coat the chicken with flour and then dredge them in egg, quickly get them into the hot oil so too much egg doesn’t run off. Cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, then carefully flip and repeat. I recommend using a fork to handle the chicken. The egg batter falls off very easily and if you use tongs there is a good chance of ripping it. Once both sides are browned set the chicken on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow to rest at room temperature.

You’re going to use the same pan for making your sauce so don’t dump out the oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallot and garlic, along with 1/2tsp of salt. Sauté until they start to sweat (this simply means that they begin to release their natural oils, which in turn will mean more flavor for the sauce), about 3-4 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add your white wine and cook until it’s reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and juice from the two lemons (careful not to get seeds in the sauce), as well as two squeezed lemon halves (make sure there are no stickers on there!), bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Put your chicken in the oven at the beginning of that simmer time. After 10 minutes remove the lemon halves, add 1tsp each of salt and pepper, as well as the butter, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring periodically.

The sauce and the chicken will be done at the same time. Remove the breasts from the oven and plate them up, then ladle the sauce over the top. Serve it with your side of choice and enjoy! I’m always a fan of either doing gnocchi, as I mentioned above, or roasted potatoes and asparagus. If you decide to do asparagus you can just cook them in the sauce for 2-3 minutes while it simmers (after having added the butter). How easy is that!?

Now let’s talk wine pairings… We’re going straight up white wine here, there aren’t too many reds that will play nicely with the overt lemon in the sauce. I recommend going in one of two directions. Either something acidic to pair with the lemon and cut through the richness of the butter, OR, a fuller bodied white that plays well with the butter and helps offset the acidity of the lemon. So it really depends if you want the overall experience of food and wine to be crisp and acidic, or rich buttery goodness. Here are a few possibilities.

Rey Santo Rueda 2013, Rueda, Spain – Rey Santo is a second label of Javier Sanz, whose family has been producing wines from these estate vineyards in La Seca for four generations. The wine is a 50/50 blend of Viura and Verdejo, two white varietals indigenous to the Castile-León region. In the glass is a light bodied wine of pale yellow color with green tinges. On the nose are aromas of key lime, tarragon and crushed rock. The palate is dominated by distinct notes of lime zest and grapefruit pith, with the citrus punctuated by bracing acidity and given depth by nuances of chewy minerality in the finish. Very pleasant for the price point. PP Score: 88 (Retail $9-11)

Foucher-Lebrun Sancerre Blanc Le Mont 2013, Loire Valley, France – (For those not familiar with Sancerre Blanc, it is made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the greater Sancerre region within the Loire Valley) Foucher-Lebrun is a petit négociant that was founded in 1921 by Paulin Lebrun, and is now run by his grandson Jacky Foucher. For the last 90+ years their goal has been simple: to source high quality fruit from the region’s top growers and produce a wine whose quality far surpasses its price, and for 90+ years they have been successful. The nose is redolent with aromas of lemon zest, kumquat, crushed white flowers and hints of chalk. On the palate is a medium to full bodied wine with notes of lemon and lime zest, chalky minerality and slight nuances of fresh garden herbs and cut grass, all brought to balance by moderate acidity, a round mouthfeel from the lees, and good minerally crunch in the finish. A stunning Sancerre for the price. PP Score: 92 (Retail $17-20)

Calera Chardonnay 2013, Central Coast, California – Calera is the winery of Josh Jensen, one of California’s true icons. He founded the winery in 1975, starting with 24 acres of vineyard in what is now known as the Mount Harlan AVA, which was named specifically for Josh, dedicated solely to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Viognier. Until recently all wines under the Calera label were from Jensen’s estates and were priced where you would expect a historic winery’s bottles to be priced, i.e. not your every day wines. However Josh decided that he would like to offer consumers wines that are slightly more wallet friendly, and he created his Central Coast line. The Calera Central Coast wines are not from the Mount Harlan estates, instead they are made with fruit sourced from a number of quality growers in the Central Coast AVA. The Central Coast Chardonnay is a beautiful representation of the varietal and region. In the glass is a full bodied wine of golden hue. On the nose are aromas of green apple, white peach skin and honeysuckle. The palate is vibrant and expressive with notes of ripe apple, poached pear, melon, brioche, vanilla and subtle oak, with a creamy mouthfeel balanced by moderate acidity, leading into a relatively long finish with a hint of warmth. PP Score: 90 (Retail $18-21) *Certified Organic

So there you have it. My recipe for a timeless classic, and the wines that I would recommend with it. Hopefully you enjoyed the read, will try the recipe and the wines. As always, new content is coming soon. In the meantime crack open a nice little citrus driven white, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!

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