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I enjoy pan-seared chicken breast cutlets without breadcrumbs. I dredge them in flour when I serve them without a sauce. Would you recommend still using flour when serving with a sauce (shallot, mushroom, white wine, chicken broth, over egg noodle ribbons) or should I sear them without dredging them? Is there any general rule of thumb as to when to use flour and when not to? Thanks for your help!

Jon from Fort Lauderdale

Yes, breadcrumbs are not a good choice for chicken in a pan sauce because they will get soggy. The general rule to follow for using flour is to be guided by your taste buds. Do you prefer thicker, heavier sauces or lighter, thinner sauces? If the sauce is served over pasta, it usually does not need to be thickened with flour because the starch in the pasta will thicken the sauce. I prefer a light, buttery sauce over chicken.

Chicken cutlets are easier to brown without dredging in flour, because the flour can quickly burn. I suggest browning the chicken in olive oil, then adding a tablespoon of flour to make the roux that will thicken the sauce. Then deglaze the pan with white wine and chicken stock. If you forget to add the flour and the sauce is too thin, cornstarch (mixed with cold water) can be added at the end to tighten up the sauce. Here is a favorite recipe from the first week of our Culinary Skills cooking class:

Chicken Piccata

  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

 

Place each chicken breast between two pieces of parchment paper and use a meat pounder to flatten the chicken to an even thickness. Season well with salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the chicken, turning once, for about 3 minutes a side. Remove to a baking dish. Add the garlic to the hot pan and stir until cooked, about a minute. Add the wine, then lemon zest and juice. Add the capers. Remove from heat and add the butter and parsley.