Let me tell you about a personal victory I’ve had recently. My students started school on August 12. We’ve eaten at home every. single. weeknight. since August 12 except one, when I had to go to Hobby Lobby so we took the easy way out and ate at Zaxby’s. I’m not going to lie…I’d rather have chicken Francese (breaded sautéed chicken with a buttery lemon sauce).
Perhaps some of you are better at being diligent and cooking at home than I am but I am the world’s worst about falling off wagons when school starts back. For example, over the summer I was running two miles a day. Now I’m doing well if I run one mile. I kept a diligent housekeeping schedule over the summer. Now? Nay nay.
Sometimes PreK teachers feel like people think that we have easy jobs. After all, we play all day! While my job is fun….it isn’t easy. I don’t sit down much, and when I do it’s to read books, help small hands cut, work puzzles, and act way more animated than you would imagine 35-year-old women who are not professional actresses should ever act. I take my job very seriously, and at the end of the day, all I really want to do is come home, lay on the couch, eat popcorn, watch New Girl on Netflix, and have someone bring food from Delia’s to my house. And have Philip rub my feet.
But that isn’t reality, is it? My paycheck and current wardrobe would not sustain that lifestyle for an indefinite period of time. Also, food bloggers tend to not be very good if they don’t cook. No food to take pictures of, write about, so on and so forth. So…I cook. For possibly the first time in my twelve-and-a-half year teaching career, I cooked dinner after the first day of school. It helps that I have a very competent husband who stirs, washes the dishes, puts things away for me, and even goes to the store on a moment’s notice when I realize I’ve forgotten an ingredient.
It also helps to have an arsenal of dishes like this up your sleeve. I cut up the green bean ingredients and got them going then started on the chicken, and my dinner was done in about thirty-five minutes, start to finish (start being cutting up the green beans, finish being plating). The first time I had chicken Francese it I was a little disappointed in the execution. It was at a party at a new restaurant, run by a former caterer. And it tasted like the chicken you get at a wedding. You know what I’m talking about….good enough for “catered chicken” but not really “restaurant quality” (if you can find me some catered breaded chicken that doesn’t taste like it’s been stacked in a chafing dish over Sterno I’ll give you a gold star). Still, I loved the concept, and when I make it at home, I can get the chicken just as crispy as I want it-without frying-and season the sauce to a perfect salty, buttery, slightly puckeringly sourness. It’s pretty much perfect. (By the way, I used a recipe for the sauce from my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, but the chicken recipe is my own.)
Baked Chicken Francese
|Prep time||10 minutes|
|Cook time||25 minutes|
|Total time||35 minutes|
|From book||Adapted from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010|
- 1lb chicken breast-for me this was 2 breasts (sliced crosswise into cutlets)
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot (minced)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)
- 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- chopped parsley
|Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have a stoneware pan, preheat that too (if you don't have stoneware, preheat a baking sheet).|
|Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dip both sides of each piece of chicken in egg then into the panko until completely coated. Place on the preheated pan and spray with olive oil spray. Place in oven for ten minutes, then turn and bake for ten minutes more.|
|As soon as you place the chicken in the oven, melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Sauté the shallot for about two minutes, then whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute. Add the chicken stock, wine, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and return the liquid to the pan.|
|To finish, turn the heat under the sauce on medium-low. Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter one tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped parsley.|