Friday, January 8, 2010
the french way: chicken francese
pasta + meat + some kind of sauce = a simple recipe for dinner with a large group of people. it's not too complicated but gives you endless combinations, and most people like pasta. i had two awesome sous chefs help me with this meal. we added fresh green beans seasoned with salt and pepper (something simple to go with the complexity of the sauce) and a nice pear & apple salad with lemon poppyseed dressing. i'll put those recipes up in another post.
--> feasting facts: FRANCESE
like it looks and sounds, francese just means "the french way." if it helps, you can think of "french" toast as something that is dipped in egg. something francese means it is dipped in flour and egg, and then fried. most cookbooks will tell you to "dredge" the chicken in flour- don't be worried by this word, it simply means to coat something with something dry. in this case, roll the chicken around in flour (making sure it's evenly coated), dip it in the egg and voila!
--> feasting facts: COOKING PASTA
does adding salt help water boil more quickly? i did a little shameless research on this question. the short answer is no. chemically, salt raises the boiling temperature of water, which means the water must be at a higher temperature to start boiling, and thus will take longer. however, the long answer is that once you achieve boiling, the water is hotter, and thus the pasta, or whatever you are cooking, cooks more quickly. for this reason it seems that many chefs opt for this method. p.s., "rolling boil" just means that you can't stop the water from boiling when you stir it.
oh, and about adding olive oil to keep pasta from sticking-- i wouldn't recommend this because it makes the pasta slippery and your sauce will not "stick" as well to the pasta. however it depends on the kind of pasta you are making-- if you have something with many grooves (such as penne or conchiglie) or cavities (such as fusili or farfalle) it will hold the sauce, but if it's flat (such as fettuccine) it will be more likely to slide off. pasta has been around since before marco polo's time. and there are literally hundreds of varieties and shapes!
chicken francese with pasta and white wine & lemon sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small strips
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 cup white flour
1/8 c. milk
2.5 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 servings worth of dry pasta (check box depending on the kind you use)
1/3 c. dry white wine
juice of one lemon
heat a skillet on medium heat. for the pasta, fill a pot with water and add a dash of salt. set on high heat to bring to boil while you cook the chicken.
mix the salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and flour in a bowl. "dredge" the chicken in this mixture- basically roll each piece around until it is evenly coated and set aside on a plate.
beat eggs in another bowl and add the milk and a sprinkle of salt. don't dip the chicken yet though! wait until the skillet is ready.
now, add the oil in the skillet along with the butter. once the butter has melted, add the garlic. wait a few minutes, and then when you hear the garlic sizzle, or speak (yes it talks), now you can cook the chicken.
dip a coated piece of chicken into the egg mixture and transfer immediately to the pan. i had to take a few tries to get this right. you really only want a thin coating over the chicken or else it will actually get too eggy. (like, it will be a piece of chicken with part of a scrambled egg attached.) so, make sure you let the egg drip off over the bowl before transferring to the pan.
if you work quickly, you can get all the chicken into the skillet around the same time. i always try to have a pattern for how i put the chicken in-- i set the first pieces go farther away from me. this way, i know which pieces to check, and which to flip, first. let the chicken cook on a side until golden brown, and then flip and do the same for the other side. this should take about 6-7 minutes on each side, but always check and make sure to cut the largest piece of chicken in half to make sure they are all fully cooked!
put the cooked chicken on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. at this point you will probably want to put your pasta in the now boiling pot of water. now, the leftover oil and seasoning from the chicken, which you'll cook first, serves as the base for the sauce!
add the wine to the pan and let deglaze so you can whisk up the chicken or flour pieces left over. the addition of the wine allows those pieces to get unstuck from the pan and dissolve a little to create the sauce. reduce the heat for 1 minute, and add the lemon and parsley.
hopefully, if everything is timed about right, the pasta will be cooked (make sure you taste test it first!). strain the pasta and pour it into a bowl (don't rinse with cold water). add the chicken and pour the sauce on top! stir and enjoy, serves 4. :)
*adapted from rachel ray's recipe. i added lemon to the sauce and also made it into a pasta dish.