As the "Downton Abbey" series first opens, the Titanic has just gone down at sea, taking with it the heir of the elegant Yorkshire estate. Perhaps he had recently eaten this dish, served to the ship's first-class passengers as part of a multicourse dinner.
French food or at least food with French names was quite popular in England in the early 1900s. We don't know the exact recipe of the dish served on the Titanic, but food cooked "á la Lyonnaise" probably would have included onions, tomato and vinegar. Adapted from "Abbey Cooks Entertain" by Pamela Foster (Pamela Powered, Kindle, $7.95).
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped (may substitute 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
6 (about 2 1/2 pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (tenderloins removed), patted dry
1 large egg
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees or the lowest possible temperature.
Place the flour, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the thyme in a sturdy plastic food storage bag, seal and shake to combine. Beat the egg in a medium bowl. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then transfer to the bag. Seal and shake to coat the chicken in the flour mixture. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the chicken pieces in the pan, smooth side down, working in batches if necessary. Cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown, then turn the pieces over and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown on the second side. (The chicken will not be cooked through.) Transfer to an ovenproof platter and place in the oven to keep warm. (If the oven can't be set as low as 170, place the platter in the oven, turn the oven off and keep the oven door closed.) Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Stir in the onions, garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon of thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until onions are a light golden brown.
Add the wine and vinegar; cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, for about 3 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Stir in the tomato paste, then the broth and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until the sauce is slightly reduced. Return the chicken to the skillet, along with any accumulated juices. Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the liquid, then cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or until the temperature of the thickest part of a chicken piece registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates and spoon the sauce over the chicken.
Per serving: 310 calories, 42 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 140 mg cholesterol, 260 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar