Chicken

A 5-Ingredient Lemony Chicken That's Big on Flavor & Simple As Heck

March 12, 2019

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. Psst—we don't count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. This week’s menu: a lemony chicken dish that’s all about the sauce.


Chicken Francese, which also goes by chicken Francaise, chicken French, and chick Franc (well, at least I call it that), is the ultimate weeknight dinner for anyone who loves chicken and lemony sauces. So all of us, right?

From start to finish, the dish is pretty fuss-free. You dredge chicken breasts in flour, egg, maybe milk, and sometimes bread crumbs. Then you sear them until golden-brown and finish cooking in a winey, lemony, buttery sauce. Lots of fresh parsley on top is optional, but not really.

While the preparation itself is simple as heck, by the time you add up the chicken dredge and pan sauce ingredients, the list gets longish. This AllRecipes version has eight ingredients (according to our Big Little rules), as does this one from The New York Times. And The Food Network’s top result comes in at seven.

Winner dinner in T-minus five ingredients. Photo by Rocky Luten

So, which ingredients aren’t absolutely essential?

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Hi Al! Did you read the piece? The first line says, “we don't count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered.” The idea, at least for me, is that there are 5 ingredients here to pick up at the store, aka that aren’t pantry staples. Hope that helps!”
— Eric K.
Comment

Chicken, flour, and lemons all have to stay. The chicken for obvious reasons. The flour is going to act as our one-ingredient chicken breading (eggs and crumbs are nice—but what’s even nicer is fewer dirty dishes). It’s also going to be our lemon breading, for a fried lemon wheel garnish (yes! just as fun as it sounds!). Oh, and it’s also going to coat some butter cubes to help thicken the pan sauce. The lemons, too, are doing overtime. In addition to the crispy slices, fresh-squeezed juice will make our pan sauce extra-tangy and extra-good. But what else do we need for that sauce?

It starts with those crusty bits stuck to the pan from browning the chicken, aka the fond. You add one or more liquids, scrape up the fond, and get a new, enriched liquid that’s a million times more flavorful. Lots of pan sauces use wine and some sort of stock.

White wine’s floral, bright booziness is signature when it comes to chicken Francese, so we definitely can't skip it. But the stock gave me pause. All of the recipes referenced above use chicken stock, which makes sense because we’re making a chicken dish. But is it necessary? After all, the fond has more than enough chickeny flavor—not to mention that the chicken breasts get added back to the sauce while it reduces. After seeing various sources recommend water instead of stock (including our own pan sauce how-to from a few years ago), I decided to give it a go—and now I’m never looking back.

The final flourish? Plenty of parsley. Now we could be stingy and do away with it, but is that really the kind of life we want to live? (No.)

This recipe makes more sauce than usual because you can never have too much and, if you’re like me, you won’t hold back when sopping it up with lots of bread.

What's your go-to chicken breast recipe? Tell us in the comments!

2 Comments

Al March 12, 2019
"5 ingredient recipe!"
Scrolls down to directions with 11 ingredients.
 
Eric K. March 12, 2019
Hi Al! Did you read the piece? The first line says, “we don't count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered.” The idea, at least for me, is that there are 5 ingredients here to pick up at the store, aka that aren’t pantry staples. Hope that helps!