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A Frenched chicken breast is a skin-on boneless chicken breast with the first wing drum (or drumette) attached. The cut is called a “Frenched breast” because the end of the wing bone is trimmed before serving.
You’ll also hear Frenched chicken breast referred to as “airline chicken”, because the chicken resembles the wing of an airplane, and “Statler chicken,” after the Boston Hotel Statler where this style of serving chicken is thought to have originated.
How to French a Chicken Breast (Step by Step)
To French a chicken breast, you’ll need a boning knife, a cutting board, and aluminum foil. A flexible boning knife is best because it’ll let you move fluidly along the contours of the chicken and cut out imperfections. The foil will prevent the meat from springing back and covering the wing drum during cooking.
The easiest way to French a chicken breast is to buy a chicken supreme cut. Chicken supreme cuts are boneless cuts of skin-on chicken breast that take less time to prepare than a regular chicken breast because they’ve already had their bones removed.
Using a Chicken Supreme Cut
Here’s how to prepare a Frenched chicken breast, using a chicken supreme cut, in 3 steps:
- Cut Around the Wing Bone
Take the boning knife in your dominant hand and the chicken in your other hand. Use a sharp knife to make circular cuts at the end of the wing bone, and cut through the skin and connective tissues.
- Push the Meat Towards the Breast
Once you’ve cut away the connective tissues and skin, place the chicken flat on your cutting board and use the knife to push the meat down the bone towards the breast. Avoid scraping the bone, as this will dull your knife.
- Wrap the Bone
After pushing the meat down the bone, you might see some excess cartilage or skin at the top of the bone. Trim the excess cartilage off, then use a small piece of foil to wrap the bone tightly. The Frenched chicken breast is now ready to cook in the oven.
Using a Whole Chicken
If you have a whole chicken and want to French a chicken breast from scratch, here’s what you should do:
- Cut the Wing Bone Joint
Begin by cutting the wing bone. You can do this by making an incision in the bone about half an inch from the chicken breast, scraping away the meat and skin, and cutting the bone using a chef’s knife. Instead of cutting the bone, you could snap the bone off at the knuckle for a cleaner result.
- Separate the Chicken Breast
Lay the chicken on your cutting board with the breast pointing up. Use a knife to cut a vertical line towards the wishbone, then, for each breast section, cut from the wishbone to the wing. Continue until you reach the breastplate, then separate the wing using the tip of your boning knife. Cut until you remove the breastplate, leaving only the wing bone.
- Remove the Excess Skin and Fat
Now the chicken breast and wing bone should remain. Trim the excess fat and skin from the breast. If you want the wing bone to stand upright during cooking, cut a small piece from the wing bone at the bottom to make a flat edge.
How to Cook a Frenched Chicken Breast
To cook a Frenched chicken breast, you can roast, grill, or pan-roast the chicken. You could also try cooking the chicken in a rice cooker to make it extra juicy.
You’ll need a baking pan, aluminum foil, some olive oil, and your favorite herbs or spices (optional) to roast a Frenched chicken breast. Preheat the oven to 425°F and toss the breast in the seasoning and oil mix. Simply toss the breast in oil if you don’t want to season the chicken. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and wrap another piece of foil around the bone.
Bake the breast for around 18 minutes, or until a thermometer pushed into the breast reads 165°F. Alternatively, grill the chicken on high heat for another 2 minutes for a crispy finish.
Like cooking salmon in a toaster oven, frenched chicken can be made in a toaster oven, too.
To grill a Frenched chicken breast, you’ll need oil, seasoning, aluminum foil, and a bowl for preparing the chicken. Start by preheating the grill, then toss the chicken in oil and seasoning.
Wrap foil around the bone to prevent it from burning, and add the chicken to the grill. Cook the chicken for up to 6 minutes on each side and check that the chicken’s internal temperature reads 165°F before serving.
You’ll need olive oil, a 10-inch skillet, salt and pepper, and your favorite herbs or spices (optional) to pan-roast a Frenched chicken breast. Preheat your oven to 425°F and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, then drizzle with olive oil. Use salt, pepper, and any other seasoning to season the breast, then set aside.
Heat the skillet with two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat, and let the oil get hot. Before the oil starts to smoke, add the chicken breast, with the skin side facing the pan. Cook for 4 minutes without moving the chicken, then flip the chicken with a pair of tongues and cook for another 2 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to the hot oven and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165°F.
Frenched Chicken Breast Tips & Meal Ideas
When preparing Frenched chicken breast, you can do a few things to achieve the tastiest results safely.
Here are some tips to follow as you prepare, cook, and store Frenched chicken breast:
- Use separate chopping boards to prepare your raw poultry and other foods in your dish to prevent cross-contamination. Wash your cutting board with hot, soapy water after use.
- Cut as close to the bone as possible to prevent the meat from clinging to the bone during cooking. Focus on the part that links the breast to the wing and make sure to cut through the tendons that connect the meat to the bones.
- The safest way to store fresh, raw chicken is in the coldest section of your refrigerator for no longer than two days. Freeze the chicken for up to 2 months if you don’t plan to use it within two days.
Frenched chicken breast is delicious on its own, but it’s mostly served with accompaniments that add flavor and extra depth to the dish.
Some of the sides that are often paired with Frenched chicken breast are:
- Roasted vegetables are a classic pairing with chicken and add texture and sweet, earthy flavors to the dish.
- Garlic mashed potatoes add a creamy texture and tangy flavor to your chicken.
- Roasted honey-glazed carrots are sweet and salty and will add some crunch to the dish.
- Wild rice with your chosen vegetables should balance out the dish with crunchy veggies and carbs.
- Cold, refreshing salad greens like lettuce are perfect for pairing with chicken on a hot summer’s day.
- Gordon Ramsay’s alfredo sauce is a rich but delicious topping for frenched chicken
Frenched Chicken Breast Origins
Frenched chicken breast is so-called because the chicken was traditionally prepared with the drumette attached in France and other European countries. In the 1930s, Frenched chicken breast was often served as part of a full-flight meal for air travelers, giving the chicken the nickname “airline chicken breast.”
Although “Airline chicken breast” is another name for “Frenched chicken breast,” the way the chicken is cut is often different. For traditional Frenched chicken breast, follow a recipe for Frenched chicken, not airline chicken.