by Barb, in Key West, where it’s a frigid seventy degrees. Brrrrrr.
Fogged Inn takes place in the off-season, when the Snowden Family Clambake is closed. To fill the long winter months, my protagonist Julia Snowden and her boyfriend Chris Durand have taken on the task of running a restaurant in their friend Gus’s place. Gus serves breakfast and lunch, as he has for fifty years. Julia and Chris take over for dinner, or as Gus calls it, “suppah.”
Julia and Chris are walking a fine line with the restaurant, which they call, “Gus’s Too.” They want it to be a casual neighborhood gathering place, but since it is the only eat-in restaurant open on the peninsula during the off-season, they also want it to be a place where a couple can have a “date night.” To attract a regular winter clientele, Julia and Chris know they have to keep the restaurant affordable, but to be a date night destination, they have to offer up something a little special. Plus, the meals have to be prepared and served with a skeleton staff–it’s only Julia and Chris as they find their way in the beginning. The food has to be creative to keep Chris’s interest, but not so creative that they lose their core customers. Finally, Gus is adamant that they not serve anything on his menu, which rules out burgers and dogs, lobster and clam rolls.
My husband, Bill, who develops the Maine Clambake recipes, and I had a lot of fun trying out recipes to suit Gus’s Too’s limited and ever-changing menu. (They offer only three entries, a chicken, a beef and an fish, along with three appetizers and two deserts every night.) There seemed to be constraints piled upon constraints. But happily, Bill threaded the needle and came up with some great ones.
Today I offer you–
Gus’s Too Date Night Stuffed Chicken Breast with Lemon-Tarragon Sauce
Adapted for home use, of course.
4–6 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch cubes
8 chicken cutlets pounded ¼-inch thick, 1/8-inch thick at the edges
1–2 cups baby spinach leaves
4–6 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 1/8-inch cubes
2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup flour
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth, warmed
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon tarragon, chopped
Fry the pancetta over medium heat until browned.
Lay each cutlet flat on a board. Put a small handful of spinach leaves and 1 Tablespoon each of pancetta and Fontina cubes in the center. Roll the cutlet into a packet, folding the sides into the center and pinching to seal.
Put cutlets in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to complete sealing process.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan in a bowl and put half on a plate. Put flour on another plate, and lightly beat eggs with a fork in a separate bowl.
Remove chicken from the refrigerator. Roll each packet first in flour, being sure to shake off excess, then in egg, and finally in bread crumbs. Place on a wire rack set on a sheet pan.
Cook chicken for 40–45 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 165 degrees.
Begin adding broth slowly, whisking together, and continue to slowly add broth, whisking all the while.
Cook on medium-low heat until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add lemon juice and chopped tarragon and cook for 1 minute more.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you try it, I hope you enjoy!