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Française Dip Sandwich

30 mins
15 mins
30 mins
15 mins


  • 2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmagiano-Reggiano
  • 4 eggs, beaten thoroughly with salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly smashed
  • 1 stick butter, cut into thirds
  • 3/4 cup white cooking wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 2 lemons, juiced and peels reserved
  • 4 brioche buns, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 pound thinly sliced honey ham
  • 1 cup cornichons (gherkins), sliced lengthwise
  • 2 cups watercress, rinsed and patted dry

Chef notes

Lemon, white wine and butter are a holy flavor trinity that works well with nearly any protein. But the umami of the eggy dredge on the chicken, the way the lemony scent and flavor just lifts the dish and makes a hearty sandwich feel light and fresh. The delicious contrast between sweet ham, slightly sour cornichons (or gherkins), and crunchy watercress will hit your taste buds from every angle. And who doesn't love to dunk a delicious sandwich? Instead of the beefy, brothy au jus commonly found with classic French dip sandwiches, this recipe provides a looser version of the traditional Française sauce, thinned with chicken stock, yet still buttery and lemony for a decadent dip with a French accent.

Technique tips: Turn heat to low after re-introducing the chicken to sauce and flip after 5 minutes. If you don't have a zester or don't feel confident using one, you can do what I do and follow in the footsteps of the great Ina Garten, and just put the lemon "shells" (hollowed out rind after juicing) skin side down into the simmering sauce to release those fragrant lemony oils.

Swap option: Parmesan may be omitted, and instead of making a roux, add the chicken stock and while its simmering, roll up balls of salted butter in flour and add incrementally to sauce to thicken. Substitute Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc for white cooking wine.

Special equipment: Not necessary, but a citrus zester is great for extracting those lemony oils out of the lemon peel.



Butterfly chicken breasts and place each cutlet between two layers of plastic film and pound very thin and evenly. Season chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.


On large dinner plate or tray, combine 1 cup of the flour with 1 tablespoon each salt and pepper and the Parmigiano. Pour the egg mixture into a wide dish with a high lip to avoid spills and set next to the seasoned flour mixture.


Coat each thin cutlet thoroughly in flour mixture. Set aside.


Add about 1/4 inch of olive oil into a deep frying pan set to medium-low heat. Add garlic cloves to oil, give the oil a quick swirl and let garlic sizzle slightly, being careful not to let it burn.


One at a time, dip flour-coated cutlets into seasoned egg mixture, coating evenly, and carefully lay in pan, taking care to avoid covering the garlic and making sure the cutlet makes contact with the pan.


Add 1/3 of the stick of butter to the pan and swirl pan to make sure butter is evenly distributed. When garlic begins to get nutty brown color, remove from pan and discard.


Cook each cutlet approximately 3 minutes on each side, until somewhat golden-brown. Remove from pan and set aside on clean plate.


Raise flame to medium and add 1/3 stick of butter to the same pan in which the chicken was cooked, and melt. Once butter is melted, add in the remaining 1/4 cup flour and keep stirring to mix thoroughly. Mixture should be a hazelnut-like, light brown color, and a uniform, paste-like consistency. This is your roux — do not let it get too dark or burn.


Carefully add wine to skillet (it will sizzle and smoke) and let it cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until all the alcohol cooks off and you are left with flavor. Take care to stir the mixture and scrape up the bits of fond (brown bits off the bottom of the pan) because that is pure, concentrated flavor.


Add 2 cups of chicken stock and all of the lemon juice. Stir this mixture, ensuring all the bits have been lifted off the bottom of the pan.


Raise heat to high until mixture begins to bubble and boil, and continue to stir. Once sauce boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.


After 2 minutes, re-introduce chicken to sauce in the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes on one side, then flip each breast and cook for another 5 minutes.


While chicken is simmering, butter brioche bun halves and toast. Set aside.


Remove chicken from sauce, set on plate and while hot, top each cutlet with 1 spoon of sauce and then with chopped parsley.


If you have a zester, add the zest of the lemon peels to the remaining sauce or — to use a technique from the great Ina Garten — just put the lemon "shells" bright-yellow-skin-side-down in simmering sauce to infuse additional lemon flavor.


Place a chicken breast on the bottom bun. Top with a layer of sliced cornichon and layer 2 to 3 slices of honey ham over. Top ham with healthy amount of watercress but leave sandwich open-faced.


Drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon of sauce over the watercress on each sandwich and add the top bun.


If the consistency of the remaining sauce is too thick to serve as a dipping sauce, slowly add in more chicken stock until thin, dipping gravy consistency is achieved. Pour remaining sauce into four ramekins, one for each sandwich.


Cut each sandwich diagonally (to ease the dipping process) and serve alongside lemon-wine-butter-stock dipping sauce for dunking.

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