Herby Chicken a la Maryland

I am so excited to be sharing this Chicken a la Maryland recipe for so many reasons.​ For starters and most importantly it is absolutely heavenly tasting. It combines flavors you may not have put together before, like fried chicken in sautéed bananas, and it works in the best and most surprising way. It’s an easy recipe, but sure to impress, after all a version of it was served to the Titanic’s first class passengers. Which leads me to the historic rabbit hole I went down on this recipe which was so fun to learn about. As some of you may have read in prior posts, I recently purchased a book called “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Taste of France” by Carol Hilker which highlights many of F. Scott Fitzgeralds favorite dishes from his travels through France in the 1920’s. It’s been so fun to read for both inspiration and historical anecdotes. 

All sources used for the research behind this post are cited at bottom of page. 
In Hilker’s book her version of the recipe is named after character Nicole Diver from F. Scott Fitzgeralds Tender is the Night. In this book Diver lays on the beach while searching for a Chicken a la Maryland recipe and works to translate it into French. Hilker also notes that this recipe, which was a favorite of Fitzgerald, was featured in late famous French chef Auguste Escoffier’s cookbook Ma Cuisine. 
I couldn’t help but wonder after reading this excerpt, why the dish is called Chicken a la Maryland if popular in French cuisine and what more of the history behind it was. While I wasn’t able to answer all my questions I found some pretty fun facts that inspired me to create my own version of this recipe and write about my findings. 
Most websites credit the roots of this dish to Auguste Escoffier, an acclaimed French chef from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. Wikipedia makes it sound as if the dish is originally rooted in Maryland. I looked high and low and while the exact origin is a little unclear, it seems that Escoffier was inspired by a traditional Maryland dish received credit due to his popular version in Ma Cuisine. This theory and origin confusion are further validated by an article I found from The New York Times archives, “When Escoffier fried chicken…” In the 1972 article written by Raymond A. Sokolov, he says “…at this stage in, time, it is hard to determine whether the French were drawn to something like this elaborately garnished and sauced dish because it was formal and pretty, or whether they took something simple and complicated it themselves.” (Quick side note, finding and using an archived NYT article for this research was so fun, as I just recently listened to an episode of NPR’s podcast “How I Built This” hosted by Guy Raz where Raz interviewed the founder of Captcha and Re-Captcha. Those words you type in to prove you aren’t a robot? They actually helped digitize the New York Times archives! I highly recommend listening to this episode just for fun)! 
A couple common and seemingly unanimous facts amongst my research are (1) that the naming of the this dish stems from the fact that Baltimore’s leading import of the time period was bananas, which are famously used as the garnish on any Chicken a la Maryland dish and (2) that a version of this dish was served on the lunch menu for the first class passengers of the Titanic. You can view the full (alleged) menu served on The Titanic, here
Okay, now let’s talk about why we’re all really here, the food itself.
I found versions of this recipe that were oven baked, soaked in buttermilk before oven baking, pan frying, but most commonly pan frying and steaming at the same time by covering the pan while the chicken cooks in oil. This is the method that we’ll do today. You could easily choose to oven bake for a healthier option, but sometimes you just have to let taste trump macros and allow yourself to deep fry. You deserve it. 
As for the flavors itself, there are many iterations out there. Both the NYT article, and Wikipedia discuss that this dish has evolved globally over time. The core of this dish is a breaded chicken topped with a creamy white gravy, or more formally known as béchamel sauce, and sautéed bananas. Many versions of this recipe call for serving it with bacon, either on the side or top of the chicken. In Hilker’s book, she recommends serving with dijon mustard on the side. The NYT version calls for a tomato sauce in addition to the gravy as well as corn fritters. Pineapple sauté or fritters along with sweet corn and mashed potatoes were other additions or variations I read about. (All listed and cited within Wikipedia article previously linked to). 
For the version we’re going to make here, I took elements from many of the core flavor pallets and cooking methods and made some variations that I loved. We’re adding lots of herbs to the breading, including thyme, coriander, parsley, dill and cumin, as all of these pair well with bananas. While the gravy we’ll make and bananas provide lots of flavor, we’ll also make a honey mustard for dipping. This is a nod to Hilker’s suggestion to serve with dijon mustard on the side. I added honey because (1) I love honey mustard, (2) it tames the bite in the dijon, and (3) the sweetness complements the banana topping. I opted out of serving with any sort of potato or fritter, and chose to pair with a simple side salad, especially since I opted IN on the deep fry method, ha! The gravy is a pretty standard white sauce of butter, flour and milk used for the base of many creamy soups and pasta sauces, with a pinch of nutmeg added as in most bechamel sauces. For the salad I used mache, which is a leafy green native to the South of France. For those of you reading from the USA or elsewhere, any leafy green without a lot of crunch will work perfect such as spinach, massaged kale, spring mix or arugula. To bring in the bacon flavor used in some variations of this recipe I fried lardons (which is basically chopped bacon or pancetta) until crispy. Lastly I tossed the greens in a mustard vinaigrette. Since the salad isn’t the focus of the recipe here, I just used a store bought. You could find a recipe for any mustard vinaigrette online and use that too. 
As always, I encourage you to make this recipe your own and omit things such as mustard sauce if you don’t like mustard. If you are out of one of the spices listed, it won’t break the recipe, use what you have. I will encourage you on this one to put aside that “chicken and bananas???” thought in your head and give this a try though. It’s not a combination that may immediately sound the best but I am telling you it. is. amazing! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Let’s get to it!

Herby Chicken a la Maryland

Servings 2



  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups vegetable oil approx.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper black is fine too
  • pinch of nutmeg

Honey Mustard

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 banana


  • Preheat oven to low heat, about 200 F or 100 C.
  • In a small mixing bowl add your bread crumbs, cumin, dill, parsley, coriander, thyme and salt and stir until fully combined.
  • Pour breadcrumb mix out on one plate, the flour out on another plate, and in bowl whisk your two eggs well. You’ll want to keep these 3 dishes right next to each other on counter.
  • IF you are frying up any lardons/pancetta/bacon for the side salad do so in the skillet before moving to step 5. Fry per salad instructions, set aside and then use same skillet in next step.
  • Add your vegetable oil to a medium/large skillet and heat over medium heat.
  • While oil heats, slice chicken breasts in half, between top and bottom, in order to keep full shape but reduce thickness by half. Dredge each chicken breast slice into the flour until fully coated, through the egg until fully coated and then repeat back into the flour and egg, and finally adding to the breadcrumb plate and dredging through crumbs until fully coated.
  • Line a new plate with paper towels and get ready to start on chicken.
  • Place two of your chicken pieces into the oil and cover pan. After five minutes remove lid, flip chicken carefully using tongs and then re-cover for another 4-5 minutes. Breading should be golden brown. Remove chicken to plate lined with paper towel to cover and then work your second batch of chicken in the same manner. (If you can fit all four pieces in at once without them overlapping, go for it in one batch). Transfer chicken that is on paper towel to a baking sheet, add second batch of chicken to paper towel when done to soak up oil and then move to baking sheet with first batch of chicken. Put chicken in oven on low heat to keep warm and crisp while we finish the rest of the meal.
  • Slice your banana in diagonal cuts to get oval slices as pictured. Toss (or eat) the ends. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a small skillet over medium heat. (You can use same skillet as chicken if you want, just make sure to be careful disposing of hot oil and then wipe clean cautiously). Add banana slices to pan and cook a couple minutes on medium heat then reduce to low to keep warm.
  • In a small saucepan melt your 2 tbsp butter for bechamel sauce over low/medium heat. Once fully melted add in your flour and whisk quickly until an even paste is formed. Pour in milk, nutmeg, salt & pepper and turn heat to medium / high, whisking constantly until a low boil starts. Let bubble only about 15 seconds and then reduce heat to low and allow to thicken into a nice creamy texture. If you over boil it will thicken to much, but fret not.. whisking in a couple tbsp of milk will help.
  • Lastly in a small sauce bowl mix together dijon and honey for serving.
  • IF you are serving the salad, now is a great time to assemble and add to plate.
  • Remove chicken from oven, layer 2 pieces per plate (or only 1 if desired), drizzle bechamel over the chicken, top with sauteed bananas. Serve your honey mustard on the side.
  • ENJOY!



  • Hilker, Carol. F. Scott Fitzgeralad’s Taste of France. Cico Books. 2016. 
  • Sokolov, Raymond A. “When Escoffier Fried Chicken …” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 May 1972, http://www.nytimes.com/1972/05/07/archives/when-escoffier-fried-chicken-.html. 
  • Metelko, Karl. “WebTitanic: Titanic Details: Icebergs.” WebTitanic | Titanic Details | Icebergs, 2001, web.archive.org/web/20130620160623/www.webtitanic.net/framemenu.html.
  •  “Chicken Maryland.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Feb. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_Maryland. 

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