May It Please the Palate ...

Chicken Bette

Many years ago, friends from my UM days married and moved to upstate New York. They soon began to host an annual Presidents Day reunion for our own version of the “Big Chill” crowd.

These weekends were spent skiing, eating, drinking, and playing Fictionary.

The latter was accompanied by much riotous laughter when people tried to guess the definitions of obscure words. Sometimes the real definitions were even better. (Example: “Ghoom: To hunt for big game, alone, at night.”)

Our first trip to Cazenovia was a long drive through wintry Canada, and after the 8 or 9 hour trip, we arrived at night.

However, we were not alone, as other former classmates and their families began to show up.

Nor did we need to hunt for big game.

That is because our hosts rewarded the hungry guests with two sizzling hot pans of “Chicken Bette.”

Named after my friend’s mother, the recipe was simplicity itself — fat chicken breasts rolled in sour cream and bread crumbs, baked with butter.

Man, that first Chicken Bette experience was so good. I may have had three or four giant pieces, and leftovers the rest of the weekend.

Chicken Bette became opening night tradition, and legendary for its deliciousness and simplicity.

Predictably, it has been passed down without precise portions or directions.

I have attempted to recreate it with varying success. My notes are as indicated.

Chicken Bette


Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Sour cream (or crème fraîche)
Pepperidge Farm herb seasoned stuffing


Preheat oven to 350°. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Roll in sour cream, and then stuffing mix. Place on a foil-lined baking pan and top with pats of butter. Bake 35-45 minutes until the juices run clear.


Season the chicken with garlic, lemon juice, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, a little Frank’s Red Hot (ancient Greek recipe).

Add parmesan cheese with the sour cream (it may burn if added to the bread crumbs).

Try butterflying the chicken breast and stuffing it with butter and herbs.

Marinate the chicken in the sour cream and any seasonings overnight before rolling in the bread crumbs and baking.

Yes, experimenting in the kitchen sometimes leads to unpredictable results, but it sure beats hunting big game, alone, at night.


Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation.
He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor.

He occasionally updates his blog at