A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 26, 2018
Chicken French (Chicken Française; Chicken Francese); Veal French

"Chicken French” (also known as “Chicken Française” or “Chicken Francese") is an Italian-American dish of flour breaded, egg-dipped, sautéed chicken with butter and white wine sauce. The dish is regionally popular in Rochester, New York.

A recipe for “Chicken Francaise” was published in the St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch on February 22, 1938. Another recipe for “Chicken Francaise” was printed in The Evening Star (Washington, DC) on June 11, 1959. Both recipes included wine. “Chicken Francaise” was advertised in the Hartford (CT) Courant on November 16, 1960.

“Veal Francaise” from the Chez Leon restaurant was printed in the Miami (FL) News on December 27, 1957. “Veal French” was advertised in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle on February 20, 1966. According to the Democrat and Chronicle on June 5, 2001, “veal is dipped in an egg batter and sauteed in butter, lemon, white wine or sherry, and herbs.” James Cianciolo originally learned how to make veal French while cooking at The Italian Village on East Main Street, Rochester, and he perfected the “Veal French” dish at the Rochester-area Brown Derby restaurant in the 1960s.

“Chicken Franch” was advertised in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle on January 13, 1974. The Brown Derby had a 1970s protest against veal, so it made “Chicken French,” and other area restaurants soon copied the dish.

However, because a recipe for “Chicken Francaise” was published in 1938 and “Veal Francaise” was cited in a 1957 newspaper, Rochester restaurants did not invent either dish. Rochester did popularize the names “Veal French” (1966) and “Chicken French” (1974), however. In December 2018, the New York (NY) Times listed “Chicken French” as one of the year’s most popular recipes.


Wikipedia: Chicken Française
Chicken Française (or Chicken Francese) is an Italian-American dish of flour breaded, egg-dipped, sautéed chicken cutlets with a lemon-butter and white wine sauce. The dish is popular in the region surrounding Rochester, New York, where it is known as Chicken French, to the point that some have suggested the dish be called Chicken Rochester. When Italian immigrants arrived in Rochester, they brought their recipes with them, including veal francese, but they substituted chicken for the more expensive veal.

Another source says that Veal Francese had been popular in the region since the 1950s, but when consumers boycotted veal in the 1970s, area chefs like James Cianciola successfully substituted chicken. Cianciola credits chefs Tony Mammano and Joe Cairo with bringing the dish from New York City.

22 February 1938, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Chicken Francaise” by Gladys T. Long, pg. 3C, cols. 3-4:
Chicken Francaise.
Two young pullets, one pint of white wine, four sliced carrots, one onion, sliced, one minced clove of garlic, one pound of sliced mushrooms, four egg yolks, two tablespoons of minced parsley, thyme and bay leaf, one thick slice of salt pork, two tablespoons butter, two tablespoons flour, six tablespoons cream and the juice of two lemons.

Cut the chicken in pieces, salt and pepper and lightly brown in butter. Place in a Dutch oven or roasting pan and add the wine, two cups of hot water, the carrots, onion, garlic, one-fourth teaspoon of thyme, one bayleaf and the cut-up salt pork. Cover and let simmer slowly from an hour and a half to two hours. Remove chicken to the warming oven and strain the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, stir in the flour and when blended gradually pour on three cups of the strained liquid. (If the sauce has reduced so that there is not that amount add equal parts of water and wine.) Stir to the boiling point. Add the chicken and sliced mushrooms and more seasoning if necessary and let simmer for 15 minutes longer. While this is cooking beat the egg yolks light with the cream and lemon juice. Place the chicken on a heated platter and add the egg mixture to the sauce. Stir to heat without letting it boil, then pour over the chicken. Garnish platter with parsley and orange slices topped with tart jelly.

27 December 1957, Miami (FL) News, “Columnist On The ‘Gourmet Front’” by Herb Rau, Fifth Annual Guide, pg. 32, col. 2:
Try his Veal Francaise or—if you call in advance—Canard de l"Orange.
(Chez Leon.—ed.)

11 June 1959, The Evening Star (Washington, DC), “Violet Faulkner Says: Chicken Popular The World Over,” pg. C-1, col. 3:
Chicken Francaise
Two broiler-fryer chickens, cut in pieces; 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 2 cans (3-4 ounces) each mushrooms; 1/2 cup dry red or white wine, 1/16 teaspoon each savory, thyme, marjoram and basil, optional; 3-4 cups hot cooked rice.

Wipe and dry chicken; sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Melt butter in skillet; brown chicken. Drain liquid from mushrooms; add to chicken with wine. Sprinkle with herbs. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Baste several times during cooking, adding small amount water when liquid in skillet is partially reduced. Add mushrooms last 10 minutes of cooking time. Serve with hot cooked rice. Makes six to eight servings.

3 April 1960, Miami (FL) News, “Gourmets and Gourmands’” by Herb Rau, Amusements Guide, pg. 14, col. 2:
And Veal Francaise at Chez Leon is a superb dish, too.

20 May 1960, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “Front Views & Profiles: What’s Cooking” by Kay Loring, pt. 5, pg. 2, cols. 7-8:
(From the Sovereign Hotel, 6200 Kenmore Avenue, and chef Mike Fish.—ed.)
And our taste buds really cheered the baked clams he dreamed up as appetizers, his veal francaise served with Orvietto, ...
(...)
For the veal dish, a slive of veal scallopine, one of egg plant and one of prosciutto ham were sandwiched together, dipped in a batter of cheese, eggs, and seasonings, sauteed in oil, and then baked.

16 November 1960, Hartford (CT) Courant, pg. 8, col. 1 ad:
Chicken Francaise
Frank’s Continental Restaurant, 250 Asylum Street.—ed.)

25 January 1962, The Capital Journal (Salem, OR), “Chicken In Way French Liked,” pg. 23, col. 1:
CHICKEN FRANCAISE
2 broiler-fryer chickens, cut up
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 8-ounce can mushrooms
1/2 cup dry red or white wine
1/16 teaspoon each savory, thyme, marjoram and basil
4 cups hot cooked rice
Wipe chicken with damp cloth; sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Melt butter in skillet; brown chicken. Drain liquid from mushrooms (save broth); add to chicken with wine. Sprinkle with herbs; cover; reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Baste several times during cooking, adding mushroom broth when liquid in skillet is partially reduced. Add mushrooms last 10 minutes of cooking time. Serve hot with cooked rice.

6 June 1963, Chicago (IL) Tribune, sec. 2B, pg. 17, col. 2 ad:
(The Spoke ‘n’ Yoke, 4256 North Central Avenue.—ed.)
... Veal Francaise, thin veal slices, sauteed in garlic butter, marsala wine, wild rice; ...

18 March 1964, Columbus (GA) Enquirer, “Enticing Aromas Fill Auditorium As Ledger-Enquirer Cooking School Opens,” pg. 10, cols. 6-7:
VEAL FRANCAISE
4 veal round steaks, or cutlets, cut 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup lard
1/4 pound “boiled” ham slices
1/4 pound Swiss cheese slices
1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups crushed cereal crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
Remove round bone and cut each steak into three serving pieces. Cut each slice of ham and cheese into three pieces. Place a piece of ham and a piece of cheese on half of each serving piece of veal and fold other half over. Mix together flour, salt and pepper. Combine egg and milk. Dredge steaks with seasoned flour. Dip dredge steaks in egg mixture, then in cereal crumbs. Place in 13x9-inch roasting pan. Cover and bake in slow oven (330 F.) 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes or until tender. 6 to 8 servings.

20 February 1966, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 2E, col. 7 ad:
VEAL FRENCH
(Red Devil, 14 State Street.—ed.)

19 August 1966. Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 6B, col. 4 ad:
BOB GRANA’S
Fountainebleau
Restaurant of Rochester
featuring
ITALIAN-AMERICAN CUISINE
One of our Specialties...Veal Francaise

1 December 1967, New York (NY) Times, “Long Island Restaurants,” pg. 16A, col. 1 ad:
THE NEW GAETAWAY RESTAURANT
(...)
Boneless Chicken Francese

Google Books
The Washington, D.C., Underground Gourmet
By Judith Viorst and Milton Viorst
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1970
Pg. 107:
Served in the butter sauce with a couple of slices of lemon, Nino’s veal francaise is an excellent rendition of this light and lovely classic. No other entree on the premises is in the same category.

10 September 1970, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 8D, col. 7 ad:
VEAL FRENCH
Delicately Sauteed in Butter with Herbs, served with Sliced Lemon.
(The Chessman, Ridge Road West and Dewey Avenue.—ed.)

24 February 1973, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 4C, col. 4 ad:
BONELESS
CHICKEN
French
Style
3.75
(Mama Mia’s Restaurant, 1046 East Main Street.—ed.)

11 March 1973, Sunday Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY), Show sec., pg. 4, col. 2 ad:
BONELESS CHICKEN
French Style
(Mama Mia’s Restaurant, 1046 East Main Street.—ed.)

6 May 1973, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 20B, col. 5 ad:
Enjoy Our Wonderful Sunday Dinner
Deliciously Prepared by ANN FAFONE
CHICKEN
FRENCH STYLE
only $3.25
(Mama Mia’s Restaurant, 1046 East Main Street.—ed.)

13 December 1973, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 6C, col. 1 ad:
VEAL FRENCH
Try our VEAL FRENCH dinner, with all the salad you can eat, choice of potato, bread and butter, and an individual bottle of French wine.
$3.95
(The Robin Hood Rooms.—ed.)

13 January 1974, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 9E, col. 6 ad:
Ann Fafone’s
SPECIAL OF THE DAY
Chicken French
(CaesarsII, 2 Dewey Avenue.—ed.)

13 January 1978, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. pg. 5C, col. 5 ad:
Chicken ala French
(CARL ARENA’S Top of the Plaza.—ed.)

Google Books
Arthur Frommer’s guide to New York.
New York, NY: Frommer/Pasmantier Pub. Corp.
1979
Pg. 90:
Entrees run from about $4.95 to $8.95; we’d recommend the broiled salmon or red snapper, $7.95 each, or the chicken Francaise—light slices of chicken, gently seasoned, with a lemon sauce, $4.95.

9 March 1979, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, The Chef’s ‘favorites,’” pg. 12-E, col. 2:
EDDIE’S CHOP HOUSE
POLLO ALA FRANCESCA
(CHICKEN FRENCH)
1 large chicken breast, boned and skinned
1.2 c. flour
2 eggs
2 tsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. chicken base
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sherry wine
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1.2 lemon
1/4 c. water
In shallow bowl, beat eggs and cheese together. Set aside. Pound chicken in flour and dip in egg mixture. Heat oil in skillet until very hot. Brown chicken on both sides; drain oil. Replace chicken in skillet; squeeze lemon juice over chicken and pour on sherry. Add butter, chicken base and water; simmer about 10 min. until tender. Serve with pasta. Serves 2-3.
-- Chef Ann Fafone

5 June 2001, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, “What’s in a name?” by Karen Miltner, pg. C1:
As for chicken French, the story really starts with veal. Or so says retired restaurateur Nate Cianciola, who ran Brighton’s Brown Derby with brother James for more than three decades. According to Cianciola, veal French—or veal or vitello francaise, as it used to be called—is Sicilian in origin, but pays tribute to the French by using Francophone ingredients and techniques. James Cianciolo originally learned how to make veal French while cooking at The Italian Village on East Main Street.

The veal is dipped in an egg batter and sauteed in butter, lemon, white wine or sherry, and herbs.

“It’s a Rochester dish. We perfected it,’’ says Cianciola, proudly citing an award received for veal French from the International Wine and Food Society decades ago.

25 January 2005, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, “Our (chicken) French connection” by Karen Miltner, pg. C1:
On this side of the Atlantic, early versions of this dish appeared on upscale menus as vitello francese or vitello alla francese, which translates as veal prepared in the French style. More casual restaurants might refer to it as veal francese.

In a 1997 episode of his now-canceled Food Network show Taste, David Rosengarten looks back to 1950s New York City, suggesting that veal and chicken francese were Italian-Americans’ response to American culture’s post-World War II love of all things French. The light, lemony white wine sauce was no doubt a significant departure from the heavy red sauces that were traditionally served in these restaurants.
(...)
Retired chef James Cianciola of Henrietta recalls seeing it on the menu at Infantino’s on Lake Avenue in the late 1950s. He then learned how to make it at the downtown Italian Village, preparing it for famous performers headlining at the Eastman Theatre next door.

“(Liberace) told me this was the best veal he’d ever had. That particular recipe stuck with me,” recalls Cianciola.

In 1967, Cianciola and his brother Nate opened the Brown Derby in Brighton, where the dish soon took on its Rochester moniker, veal French.

When consumers began boycotting veal in the 1970s, the Cianciolas decided to use the same technique with chicken.

Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, NY)
Memmott: In Rochester, chicken French rules the roost
Jim Memmott Published 2:15 p.m. ET Dec. 2, 2014 | Updated 5:01 p.m. ET Dec. 3, 2014
(...)
First there was vitello francese (veal French) in New York City after World War II.

Cianciola credits two chefs, Tony Mammano and Joe Cairo, with bringing the dish to Rochester.

James Cianciola, who was known in cooking circles as Chef Vincenzo, then began preparing veal French at the Brown Derby. His version of the dish was so good, it won an international award.

However, things changed in the 1970s after anti-veal picketers showed up at the Brown Derby door urging a boycott of the restaurant. In response, the Cianciolas put chicken French, an item they had already been cooking for themselves, on the menu.

It caught on and they soon added artichoke French and cauliflower French and haddock French and other foods French.

New York (NY) Times
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2018
The Most Popular Recipes of 2018
SAM SIFTON
Good morning. We mined our data to come up with a list of the 50 most popular new recipes on NYT Cooking this year. I’m super-stoked to report that the top slot went to Julia Moskin’s recipe for chicken francese (above), an American-Italian interpretation of French cooking that you’ll find on restaurant menus all over the United States but particularly in ones built under the low slate skies of Rochester, N.Y., where the dish is known as “chicken French.”

Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, NY)
Chicken French was most popular 2018 recipe in the ‘New York Times’
Tracy Schuhmacher, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Published 1:03 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2018 | Updated 5:19 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2018
(...)
The New York Times used reader data to compile its 2018 list of the most popular new recipes on its website. Number one was an Italian-American dish near and dear to many Rochesterians: Chicken French.

The recipe actually bears the fancy moniker of chicken francese, and notes that it’s on restaurant menus all over the country.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Wednesday, December 26, 2018 • Permalink