Escalopes de poulard au citron

Chicken escalopes with lemon

Peter Flynn

Escalopes cooking in the sauce

This is an adaptation of the Cordon Bleu recipe for Escalopes de Veau à l’Orange which you can find in the Hume and Downes paperback. Veal was expensive and not good quality in England at the time: as Nicholas Freeling says in his Cook Book, the farmer didn’t know how to raise it, the butcher didn’t know how to cut it up, and the housewife didn’t know how to cook it. So this recipe uses flattened breasts of chicken, and lemons because oranges are not the only fruit.

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Serves 4. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes.


  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 25 g butter
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1 tsp flour
  • ½ pt chicken stock
  • 2 large lemons
  • 3 tbsp thick cream
  • handful of parsley


  1. Flatten the chicken breasts with a steak bat or rolling pin (I put the meat between two pieces of greaseproof paper or siliconed baking parchment so that it doesn’t stick to whatever blunt implement you use). You should end up with four pieces of thinnish meat about 20cm diameter.

  2. Melt 10 g of the butter in a pan and fry the chicken breasts quickly, until they go white both sides but are not quite cooked (about a minute each side). Put them in a warm place while you make the sauce.

  3. Deglaze the pan with the brandy and pour the juice into a cup or jug to keep it while you make the roux. Melt the rest of the butter in the pan, sprinkle the flour into it and cook for 30 seconds, mixing to a slack goo. Pour in the brandy/juices and stir well.

  4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil so that it thickens slightly like a gravy. Add the finely-scraped zest of one of the lemons and the juice of both, keeping back four thin slices unsqueezed for garnish. (see tip)

  5. Put in the meat, cover and simmer for 4–5 mins to finish cooking.

  6. Add the cream to the sauce just before serving, with a slice of lemon and a sprinkle of finely-chopped parsley on each.

Potatoes go well with this, either new ones boiled, or a gratiné dauphinois, although food artists will complain that it’s all too pale-coloured, so have some broccoli or carrot as well.

If you’re veggie/vegan, this works really well with soya TVP or thinly-pressed vegetable-and-nut slices, and use a good vegetable stock cube. If you want meat but can’t afford chicken breasts, buy thighs or wings, remove the skin, bone and cartilage, and beat the meat into compacted escalopes between two sheets of greaseproof paper as above, and you’ve got a really good meal for a few bucks (OK, so there’s the brandy…use some Diet Coke™ instead, you’d be surprised).

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