Rochester Chicken French Burgers With Fontina Cheese And Garlicky Sauteed Romaine

Pairs well with:

Pinot Grigio

You won’t need a bouquet of flowers when you share our Pinot Grigio. This crisp wine with floral aromas is a wonderful way to make an entrance.

I moved to the Rochester, NY area a few years ago, and noticed a dish I had never heard of before on menus at many of the local restaurants. That dish is called “Chicken French” and is apparently only found around the Rochester area, in all types of restaurants — Italian, Mediterranean, and even local mom-and-pop family joints. What a wonderful dish! Chicken breasts are pounded thin, coated with egg and flour, and pan fried with a sauce made of garlic, butter, white wine, lemon juice and herbs. It is often served with pasta or wilted greens. I thought it was really neat to find such a local dish that hasn’t really been brought to other parts of the country, so in creating this burger I’ve tried to capture the flavors of chicken french to share with everyone. The patties include chicken, garlic, white wine, lemon, parmesan cheese and herbs, and the garlicky romaine makes for a flavorful and healthy topping. The ciabatta rolls are a nod to the apparent Italian origin of the dish (though it’s origins are disputed). This is a light and tasty burger, and is a true “local” find from Upstate NY!


For the Garlicky Sauteed Romaine:

2 tbsp Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp garlic, finely minced
1 tsp chicken base (such as Better Than Bouillion)
1 12oz bag romaine lettuce (pre-cut and washed)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup Sutter Home Pinot Grigio
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken French Burgers:

2 lb ground chicken
2 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp Sutter Home Pinot Grigio
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

vegetable oil (for brushing the grill rack)
6 ciabatta rolls, split
butter (for the rolls)
1/2 lb fontina cheese, thinly sliced


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the Garlicky Sauteed Romaine: Set a very large, heavy, flameproof frying pan on the grill over medium high heat. Add olive oil and garlic and cook until fragrant (avoid burning), about a minute. Add chicken base and stir. Add romaine and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until it starts to cook down and volume is much reduced. Add lemon juice, Pinot Grigio, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced and romaine is tender, another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

To make the patties: In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, eggs, garlic, parsley, chives, lemon juice, Pinot Grigio, pepper, salt, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese. Mix with hands until just combined. (If mixture seems too wet to form into patties, add a little more breadcrumbs). Form into 6 patties.

Brush the preheated grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties over medium-high heat and cover, cooking for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Flip patties and cook for a further 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. Place sliced fontina cheese on each patty for the last couple of minutes of cooking to allow the cheese to melt.

During the last few minutes of cooking, place split ciabatta rolls, cut side down, around the outer edges of the grill rack until lightly toasted.

To assemble the burgers: Spread the cut sides of each roll with butter. On each roll bottom, place a patty, then top with a generous portion of sauteed romaine. Add the roll tops and serve warm.