The recipe is given for a whole chicken. It is best prepared with pieces all of a kind. Wings lend themselves perfectly. If prepared with breasts, they should be only just colored in the sautéing process, the flesh not quite firm from cooking.
The acidity of the white wine and the lemon causes the cheese custard to curdle during the cooking, creating a texture that, personally, I find pleasant but which may not please everyone. Try it . . .
Salt the chicken pieces and cook them in the butter over a medium heat until nearly done and lightly colored on all sides—about 20 minutes, adding the breasts only after the first 10 minutes. Transfer them to a gratin dish of a size to just hold them, arranged side by side. Cook the crumbs in the chicken’s cooking butter until slightly crisp and only slightly colored—still blond, stirring. Put them aside (don’t worry if a few remain in the pan) and deglaze the pan with the white wine, reducing it by about half.
Whisk together the cream, egg yolks, seasonings, and cheese, then incorporate the lemon and the deglazing liquid. Spoon or pour the mixture evenly over the chicken pieces, sprinkle the surface with the breadcrumbs, and bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes or until the surface is nicely colored and the custard is firm.
Copyright © 1974 by Richard Olney. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.