Pecorino Chicken Francese

This is my mom’s Pecorino Chicken Francese recipe. She gave it to me years ago and it’s always a hit, whether served at dinner parties or just a romantic candlelit dinner at home with my husband.

Chicken Francese (or Chicken Francaise) is an old Italian-American restaurant favorite. It’s meant to be the Italian version of French chicken. I’m not sure how authentic it is, but this dish with its lemon, butter, and white wine sauce is certainly mouthwatering. With my mom’s extra kick of Pecorino, it becomes something truly special.

As with any great recipe, the beauty of Pecorino Chicken Francese is in the details. It’s best if you use fresh squeezed lemon juice — you’re already cutting a fresh lemon into slices anyway. I personally love the extra flavor zing of using Italian seasoned bread crumbs, but if you’d prefer to work with plain bread crumbs and add your own Italian seasonings, that’s one way you could truly make the dish your own.

Pecorino Romano.

Pecorino Romano is really the star of this dish. By adding the cheese to the chicken breading, Pecorino’s nutty, rich notes marry to the chicken and blend into the base of the sauce. Then when you sprinkle the remaining cheese on top for garnish, it becomes the first flavor to hit your tongue when you take a bite. Combined with the zing of the lemon and the deep notes of the wine, this is a chicken dish you will absolutely want to keep making.

Because of the rich flavor of the sauce, I like to serve it over pasta. The sauce coats both the pasta and the chicken to create an absolutely divine bite. Linguine is my favorite pasta to pair with Pecorino Chicken Francese, but fettuccine works just as well. Really, any pasta you have on hand could work, from spaghetti to penne or rotini. I also occasionally serve it with roasted vegetables like potatoes or carrots. And in the warmer months I love it with a fresh green salad, like arugula with a simple lemon vinaigrette.

 

Pecorino Chicken Francese

4 from 3 votes

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs

  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, divided

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted)

  • salt & black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Remove tenderloin from each chicken breast. Cut each chicken breast into 2 slices. Pound chicken, including tenderloins, to 1/4-inch thickness. Arrange chicken in dish and cover completely with milk to soak. Cover dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Lightly butter bottom and sides of oven-safe baking dish.
  • Mix Italian bread crumbs, 3/4 cup Pecorino Romano (reserve remaining 1/4 cup), salt & pepper, and parsley together in shallow bowl or pan.
  • Remove chicken from milk and dredge through bread crumb mixture until each piece is evenly coated.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook chicken in the hot oil until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  • Transfer chicken to prepared baking dish, reserving 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet. Season chicken with salt & pepper. Arrange lemon slices on each piece of chicken.
  • Add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet with reserved olive oil. Deglaze with white wine; bring to simmer over medium-low to medium heat. Be sure to whisk caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Add chicken broth to pan and bring to simmer. Simmer 5-10 minutes, or until reduced by half. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice. Pour mixture over chicken.
  • Bake in preheated oven until chicken reaches internal temperature of 180° F (82° C) and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Sprinkle reserved 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano on chicken and serve.

Notes

  • This recipe works perfectly over pasta like linguine or fettuccine. It’s also great with roasted potatoes or other root vegetables, or even with just a simple and fresh green salad.
  • To substitute wine, use 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 3/4 cup more chicken stock.
  • To substitute Italian bread crumbs, use plain bread crumbs and season with Italian herbs blends and onion and garlic powder to taste.
  • Pecorino Romano can be substituted by Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, or aged Asiago.

Often when recipes recommend a dry white wine people are confused as to what they should choose. Cooking wine is available to buy in most grocery stores, but I never recommend it. Anything you wouldn’t be able to drink on its own is a poor choice for a recipe that calls for wine, especially recipes like this one where wine is a primary sauce component.

Dry white wine.

My personal favorites for chicken dishes are Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. I open the bottle to finish the sauce, then put it on the table to enjoy with the meal. My favorite bottles run at about $8 and $11 respectively, so don’t feel like you have to break the bank to cook with wine!

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