A classic Italian chicken dish

April 27, 2013 


Chicken Francese from Lubrano's Italian Ristorante in Morrisville.

JULI LEONARD — jleonard@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

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    Lubrano’s Ristorante Italiano

    101 Keybridge Dr. Morrisville



Our favorite restaurant in the Cary area is Lubrano’s Italian Ristorante in Morrisville. We have been going there often since it opened. We have never been disappointed in the delicious food or excellent service. My favorite recipe is Chicken Francese. It is always perfect with a side of your choice of pasta. I would be so grateful if you could get the recipe.

Steve and Joyce DeMoe


Chef Paolo Zoccola, who owns Lubrano’s Ristorante Italiano in Morrisville, came to the U.S. from Italy 23 years ago.

Raised in Fusaro, a community near Naples, Zoccola said his mother, Anna, practically ran a restaurant out of her home, making meals for 20 to 25 people every day. “She’s still the best chef I’ve ever met,” he said.

Watching his mother and brother, who also works as a chef, in the kitchen inspired Zoccola. “That’s how I got my passion,” he said.

After high school, Zoccola moved to the U.S. and stayed. He owned a pizzeria in New Jersey for 11 years. Then in 2001, he relocated to North Carolina to open Lubrano’s with the restaurant’s namesake, who owns several locations in High Point and Greensboro. Eventually, Zoccola took over the Morrisville location and has been serving his take on classic Italian food ever since.

His Chicken Francese is one of those classic dishes that he’s made his own. “Everybody does it a little bit different,” Zoccola explained.

His version is a butterflied chicken breast pounded thin, dipped in flour and then an egg batter and cooked until done. A pan sauce of white wine, chicken stock and fresh squeezed lemon juice pairs with the chicken and is served with a side of pasta.

Lubrano’s Chicken Francese A note from the recipe tester: This recipe produces a large piece of chicken, which can easily serve two people. If serving more than two, multiple the ingredients for the flour and egg dredge to accommodate more chicken breasts. This dish is best eaten immediately. Later, the chicken’s delicate breading does not taste as good as it does straight from the skillet. To see a video on how to butterfly a chicken breast, go to goo.gl/Ku2RT. 2 eggs 1/8 teaspoon salt Fresh ground black pepper, to taste 1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus more for garnish 1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan Romano cheese 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon flour, divided 1 chicken breast, butterflied and pounded thin 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon white wine 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon chicken stock Lemon slices, for garnish

COMBINE eggs in a large, shallow dish. Stir with a fork. Add salt, pepper, parsley and cheese.

PLACE 2 tablespoons flour on a plate. Dip the butterflied chicken breast in the flour to coat both sides. Then dip the floured chicken breast into the egg wash on both sides.

MELT butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until fully cooked. Remove chicken to a plate.

MAKE a sauce in the skillet: add white wine and use a spatula to dislodge the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice and chicken stock. Sift the flour into the sauce and then whisk the flour to thicken the sauce.

CUT chicken in half, serve each piece of chicken with pasta, a bit of sauce and garnished with sliced lemons and fresh parsley. Yield: 2 servings

Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, c/o The News & Observer or email aweigl@newsobserver.com.

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