When trying to live healthier lifestyles and eat healthier foods, many of us don’t look forward to the prospect of giving up decadent comfort foods or rich foods our grandparents used to serve at family dinners. It is a huge reason why many people don’t make the switch to healthy alternatives. I’m here to tell you that eating healthier does not mean you have to survive on water and salad for every meal every day for the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong…I love a fresh, cooling green salad with a big glass of water any day…but of course there are times I want something more filling and comforting. We can still enjoy these foods from time to time without guilt if the way we eat the majority of the time is clean and healthy.
However, for those dealing with issues caused by gluten intolerance or sensitivity, Celiac disease, or dairy allergies or intolerance; these once favorite foods are no longer safe or healthy options. Many people have sensitivities or other issues with gluten and dairy and don’t even know it. In fact, many of the most common digestive issues (agita) and skin issues like acne and even rosacea can be tied to either over-consumption or inability to properly digest these products. Both produce acidic reactions in the body, and also contribute to Candida overgrowth, toxic build-up, and inflammation. Whether or not you have been formally diagnosed with Celiac or any other gluten or dairy-related condition, reducing or eliminating these products from your diet can really benefit your health and your skin.
I love Chicken Francese…it’s creamy, it’s lemony, it (should) have a bit of a crunch…absolutely delish and warming during the colder months. But…traditional recipes contain large amounts of butter, breadcrumbs, white flour, salt, oil, eggs, and some contain heavy cream. My arteries are building up just thinking about it. How could I possibly make a dairy and gluten-free version of this dish that still tastes as delicious and satisfying as the original? Some substitutions had to be made.
Now, I typically don’t go for food products that try to imitate other foods…you will never see me eat “tofurky”…but I have a great non-dairy (not margarine or any other hydrogenated or trans fats) “butter”, and I swap out the refined white all-purpose flour for gluten-free brown rice flour instead. Also, rather than using heavy cream I use unsweetened almond milk. Keep in mind that while this is dairy and gluten-free, I still use eggs as a binder…couldn’t get around that.
|Tofurky…I just can’t…|
Here’s what you need (organic ingredients if available) for 4 to 6 reasonably sized portions (remember, this is a healthier version of the original but the portions should not be as big as what you’d order at a restaurant):
• 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts, pounded thin (about ¼” thick)
• Brown rice flour, for dredging and thickening the sauce if needed
• 2 large eggs, whisked in a bowl
• ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk
• 2 small or one large garlic clove, minced
• 3 tablespoons of non-dairy butter (I like Earth’s Balance)…or cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil if you want to add some sweetness to counteract the sour of the lemon…totally up to you!
• 1/2 cup high quality dry white wine (5 oz more if you’d like a glass
• 1 cup vegetable stock or broth (I like Imagine’s No Chicken Stock)
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 4 to 6 slices of lemon to garnish
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian/flat leaf parsley
• Pink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt and freshly ground black or multicolored pepper to taste
I like to pound out my chicken first, and then let it soak in the almond milk while I’m prepping the rest of the ingredients and heating my pan (mise en place people!). Whisk your eggs in a bowl and pour enough brown rice flour to dredge all of your chicken pieces. I like to season the flour with salt and pepper.
Start melting half of the non-dairy butter in the pan and spread it around until the pan is coated. Take your chicken pieces out of the almond milk and dredge them in the brown rice flour. Shake off the excess and then coat them in the whisked eggs and put them in the pan. Cook each side for only about 2 minutes each over a medium flame until they turn golden, then remove them from the pan, cover them, and set them aside.
Start sautéing the garlic and your lemon slices over a medium heat until the lemon slices are softened and the garlic is golden (not burnt please). The aroma should have your mouth watering.
Add the wine, vegetable stock, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the rest of your butter and simmer until the butter is melted. Add a dash more of brown rice flour if the sauce seems too liquidy (remember it will thicken upon cooling, and the chicken will absorb some).
Add half of your parsley and stir into the sauce…save the rest for garnishing.
Return the chicken to the pan and simmer just long enough to reheat the chicken…too long and it will get soggy which is not appetizing.
Plate your chicken, pour some sauce over and garnish more parsley, and with the lemon slices (if you wish…I didn’t the first time I made it which is when the photo below was taken). Add more salt and pepper to taste and buon appetito! A healthier, and more tolerable…but just as satisfying and comforting chicken francese is what’s for dinner.