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.
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.
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).
Herby Chicken a la Maryland
- 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
- 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.
Salad (Optional): If you choose to pair with the same salad I did, which I do highly recommend as the flavors all complement each other so well with the main dish here are the quick ingredients and instructions. If not, skip on past this section!
- 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.