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Old 01-08-2006, 01:29 AM   #1
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Question Italian Chicken Francaise

Hello, I'm new here and I just love Italian cooking! I'm from South Florida and we have a bunch of Italian restaurants in the area that I frequent with my wife.

My question is that I love Chicken Francaise but I'm having some problems with a few things while making it at home. First, the batter and the chicken is very simple and I seem to have that down very well. My main problem is the final " wine sauce" that you serve over the angel hair pasta. I eat the dish at the Big Tomato Market Grill and a few other Italian restaurants and they always serve the Chicken Francaise over pasta, which I love, in a thick butter sauce.

My problem is that my final butter/lemon/wine sauce is always very watery and not thick like it is in the restaurant. Here are two recipes I tend to follow and I mix and match but can never get the final sauce down. I also posted the URLs of the recipes so you can get a better look.

Quote:
Italian Chicken Francaise Recipes:
Quote:

8 boneless chicken breast halves

Batter:
1 cup eggs, beaten (about 5 or 6 large eggs)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons mashed garlic, finely minced
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Wine Sauce:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preperation:
Lightly pound chicken breasts to flatten somewhat to an even thickness. Dust the chicken in the flour and set aside. Make the batter by beating eggs briskly, then beating in the lemon juice, parsley, salt, wine, garlic, hot pepper sauce, and Parmesan. Coat a heavy skillet with olive oil and butter and place over medium-high heat. Dip the floured chicken pieces in the batter; coat generously and place in the heated skillet. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and drain off excess fat. Make the wine sauce; melt the butter in the pan, then stir in the wine and lemon juice. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, spooning the wine sauce over all and cook for about 1 minute longer. Serve immediately.

http://www.dianaskitchen.com/page/poultry/nyny.htm

And/Or

Dredging:
flour, for dusting
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
2 eggs
1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine (See Notes)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
flat-leaf Italian parsley

Preparation:

Mix a decent amount of salt and pepper with the flour to make a dredging mixture. You don't need any more than a cup of flour; you're just giving them a light dusting. Using a meat pounder, pound the chicken breasts flat so that they are about the size of your hand. Dredge the chicken breasts through the flour. When you pull them out, give them a few good slaps so that the extra flour falls off. You want a very light coating; this isn't supposed to be like batter. Crack the two eggs into a flat bowl, pierce the yolks with a fork, and scramble them slightly. Combine with about a quarter cup of water to make a light egg wash. It should be pale yellow in color. Run the chicken through the egg wash. Keep in mind this is a wash, not a bath. You don't want it soaking in egg, just enough to keep it wet and absorb the flour coating. Heat the quarter cup of olive oil in a large fry pan on medium-high heat, and when it is smoking hot, place the chicken into the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. You will know when it is ready to flip when the chicken has a nice, slightly browned color and a crisp texture. Remove the chicken from the pan.
Cut your lemon in half. Using one half, make several paper thin slices of lemon. Save the other half. Turn the stove up to high heat, and drop the lemon slices into the stove. Wait for them to caramelize and take on a slightly gummy texture. Pour in the 1/2 cup of white wine. I recommend Yellowtail Pinto Grigio because it's not too expensive, you can drink it with the meal, and the sweetness of it counteracts the sour of the lemon. Let the sauce reduce for 30 seconds to one minute. Sprinkle in salt to taste, and then add in the cup of chicken broth. Allow it to reduce again. Take your butter, and dredge it in the flour. Break it up into chunks and drop it into the sauce, swirling it around and allowing the sauce to thicken.
Once the sauce has thickened sufficiently, put the chicken breasts back into the pan. Coat them thoroughly with the sauce, and let them cook for about another minute or two to warm them back up. Transfer to a serving platter, putting a few slices of lemon on top of each chicken breast, and then drizzle the sauce over the whole concoction. Garnish with flat-leaf parsley, or whatever greenery you think would go good with the meal.

http://www.recipezaar.com/141309
I usually follow the top recipe more then the bottom and everything about the batter goes well along with frying the chicken in the pan with butter and oil. But the wine/butter sauce is always a disaster. I dredge the butter in some flour then add the wine sauce and lemon but it NEVER comes out right! It is always to "winey" tasting or to oily/buttery, and its never thick like in the restaurant. Then the oil starts to separate and I try to throw in more flour to congeal it but nothing works?! In the restaurant its not to winey tasting either? The restaurants sauce is thick, but not to thick, creamy, and has a GREAT taste; What am I doing wrong? Please help me make a thick, nice tasting sauce for my Chicken Francaise served with angel hair pasta. If you have a recipe that you think would be easier please let me know.

Thanks so much,

FifthE1ement

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Old 01-08-2006, 03:52 AM   #2
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Without knowing the restaurant's recipe, but from looking at the two recipes you've provided, the restaurant is probably doing one of two things:
  • They are making a beurre blanc
  • They are thickening their sauce using flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, etc.
Now if it's a good restaurant, most likely they will be making a beurre blanc, so you will need to make that in order to duplicate the recipe. I posted a recipe for Basic Beurre Blanc (or it might be called "Beurre Blanc Base", I don't remember) so you could try using that if you wish.

The problem with the two recipes that you are using is that neither sauce has the ingredients or preparation neccessary to become thick. In order for the fat to thicken, you need a small amount of highly concentrated acid. Most true small batch butter sauce recipes starts out with at least 1/2 to 1 cup of acidic liquid, reduced down to about 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. before the fat is incorporated. Neither recipe does that which is why the sauce is not thickening. They also don't provide enough fat. You'll need more butter and/or a combination of butter and heavy cream to attain the thickness that you want.

If you don't want to make a beurre blanc, you could also make a slurry and add that, but it won't taste as good. A beurre manie would also work as well.
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Old 01-08-2006, 10:09 AM   #3
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Ironchef, I think, is right on, as usual.

I immediately thought of beurre blanc.

You could just try reducing the wine, add the lemon juice and then the pieces of butter in batches, if you do not want to add the cream.

And the beurre manie would certainly work.

But the recipes the way they are written will not be at all thick.

You can always experiment, something we love to do.

Get some wine, butter, and lemons and try a few batches, done a bit differently. Keep going until you get the sauce you want.

We do our own test kitchens every once in a while and find it great fun.

Don't like wasting our failures, but would rather do it now than when it is being served as a meal. And we look upon the exercise as a hobby, and we really do not have many. I would guess perfecting a sauce you like is a lot less expensive than a round of golf.
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Old 01-09-2006, 10:12 AM   #4
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Thumbs up

Yeah, the big problem I am having is that the butter/wine/lemon mixture is splitting into two parts butter and then a white mixture on the bottom. I was making my sauce by putting in the wine and lemon juice and letting the wine burn out... then I took the butter and chopped it into cubes and dredged them in the flour. I then placed them in with the wine/lemon mixture already in the pan. So what do I do? Cook them at a lower temp until it congeals?

Do I use heavy cream? I have never heard of this before?

Im not using the wine they selected as I am using a wine that I cheap and in my area; what do you think of Santa Carolina Chardonnay from Chile?

Also, how do I get the chicken to be tender/softer like in the restaurant; do I use a meat mallet?

I like to make a big thing of the sauce too so is there anything I should do to make a nice big vat of it?

Thanks so much for the help as I love this meal and could make it every night,

FifthE1ement
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Old 01-09-2006, 10:22 AM   #5
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It must be me - but the title of the dish intrigues me! Italian chicken FRANCAISE?
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Old 01-09-2006, 10:41 AM   #6
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Try this:

After cooking the chicken, drain off the excess fat and deglaze the pan with the lemon and wine, scraping up any fond and stirring it into the liquid. Add a pat of the butter and whisk it into the liquid OFF THE HEAT. When the butter is dissolved, add another pat and whisk that in. Repeat this process until all the butter is incorporated.

Return the pan to the burner during this process only long enough to add the heat necessary to keep the butter melting. The liquid should never boil!

Done this way, the butter won't separate from the other liquids and will thicken the sauce.
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Old 01-09-2006, 10:47 AM   #7
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Fifth, try Ironchef's beurre blanc recipe. Maybe reduce the amount of wine, if you find it too wine-y. Basic Beurre Blanc

Also, maybe try the bottom recipe for softer chicken. Overcooked chicken will be hard and dry. If you are pounding the breasts flat and thin, and if you have your oil hot, you shouldn't need as much as 5-7 minutes to get it golden brown and JUST done (it should be 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer, so at that high heat, I'd take it off at 155 and let it continue to cook a bit as it sits).

Lee
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Old 01-09-2006, 04:19 PM   #8
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try adding a little italian seasoned bread crumbs (the kind in a can at the store). it thickens it as well as seems to hold it together.

at least it does for me when i do shrimp over angel hair pasta using the same sauce recipe as you posted.

top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.....yum!!!!
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Old 01-09-2006, 05:23 PM   #9
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I think the chardonnay is likely too oaky or if not then simply the wrong wine so I'd get something that isn't oaked at all so that will soften the winey taste. Other than that these folks have served you well.
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Old 01-09-2006, 06:42 PM   #10
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Fifth, I posted below using your quote so it'll be easier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FifthE1ement
Yeah, the big problem I am having is that the butter/wine/lemon mixture is splitting into two parts butter and then a white mixture on the bottom. I was making my sauce by putting in the wine and lemon juice and letting the wine burn out... then I took the butter and chopped it into cubes and dredged them in the flour. I then placed them in with the wine/lemon mixture already in the pan. So what do I do? Cook them at a lower temp until it congeals? Like Andy said, you need to emulsify this off the heat. Because of the residual heat from the pan/sauce, you won't even have to return it to the pan. Just whisk in a few cubes at a time. However, you need reduce the wine/lemon until there's barely any left, maybe 2 Tbsp. The butter is seperating because of the amount of heat being applied to it. Heat will destroy almost any emulsion.

Do I use heavy cream? I have never heard of this before? Using heavy cream is a way to help prevent the sauce from breaking because it acts like a buffer. You do need to reduce the cream by at least 1/2 to obtain the desired thickness I think you're looking for.

Im not using the wine they selected as I am using a wine that I cheap and in my area; what do you think of Santa Carolina Chardonnay from Chile? It may affect the flavor, but probably not in the small quantity that it is being used in. What's more important is that you get the technique down, much more important than the ingredients being used most of the time.

Also, how do I get the chicken to be tender/softer like in the restaurant; do I use a meat mallet? You need make it scallopine style. Cover it with plastic wrap and pound it with a meat mallet, heavy skillet, etc. until it's about 1/4-1/2" thick. Make sure that you pound it evenly so that it cooks evenly.

I like to make a big thing of the sauce too so is there anything I should do to make a nice big vat of it? Use the beurre blanc recipe. The heavy cream will help with storage because it prevents the sauce from seperating if done right.

Thanks so much for the help as I love this meal and could make it every night,

FifthE1ement
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