Cooking On A Budget: Chicken Piccata

Friday, December 4, 2015

Chicken Piccata

An absolutely lovely dinner that is neither complicated or complex. Simple ingredients combined to make a delicious main course meal for family or guests.

I was at my niece's baby shower last weekend and the luncheon I chose was Chicken Piccata. It was delicious and I knew right then and there I would be making it at home. I looked up various recipes and ended up tweaking a Martha Stewart recipe to fit our tastes. It is not too far off, but it combines the flavors I tasted in the dish last Saturday and the common ingredients found in every chicken piccata recipe. Hope you will like it too and give it a go.
This dish made with veal originated in Italy. Here in America we revised the dish to be made with chicken. In Italy Veal Piccata would be served as a second course (secondo) and is served after the pasta. The Italians sure know how to eat well don't they? Well this is a first course for us and I am serving it with my basic rice recipe and some sauteed yellow and zucchini squash.

Aside from the chicken the components to the sauce are capers, white wine and lemon juice. I've added a little chicken broth to round out those flavors and give us a wee bit more sauce. Capers come from the caper bush and are the little buds that form before the plant flowers. They are found mostly in a brined solution but they are also dried and as I read pretty pricey. The flavor is tangy, salty and these little buds have a pickled flavor which I am sure comes from the brine solution.

I want to tell you about the lemon juice: one tablespoon will give you a nice lemon flavor in the dish, two tablespoons will give you a real punch of lemon flavor and well 3 tablespoons I feel is kind of in your face full of lemon juice.  The amount you put in is based on your own tastes so I recommend add one tablespoon, mix in and taste and go from there. Since it was my first time making the dish I went with all three! Yeah, won't do that again.
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts - cut in half horizontally (or chicken cutlets)
  • 1/4 cup sifted flour + 1 tsp. salt (for the coating)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1-3 tbsp. lemon juice (1 large lemon was enough)
  • 2 tbsp. capers (drain and rinse them)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine (As always one you would drink- I used Chardonnay.)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • black pepper to taste (to season the chicken)
  1. Wash your chicken under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife with a long blade slice the chicken in half horizontally. 
  2.  At this point cover the breast with some plastic wrap and pound them down slightly to even them. You don't need to do this very much.
  3. Season both sides with black pepper.
  4. Make your flour mixture: sift the flour into a square baking dish and add the salt. Mix well.
  5. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off excess.
  6. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter. When the butter is melted and sizzling, add in the chicken breasts. Do in batches and do not overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 2-4 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the breast, to a golden brown.
  7. Remove the chicken to a platter.
  8. Pour off excess fat.
  9. Over medium heat, add the wine to the pan and de-glaze and scrape all the good bits. Reduce the wine by half.
  10. Next add in the lemon juice, the capers and the chicken broth and parsley. Stir. Place the chicken back in the pan and warm through or finish that last minute or so of cooking.
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 15
Serves: 4

Chicken Piccata is definitely a great week night meal as it doesn't take long to prepare or cook. And it presents itself so beautifully that you could have this on your menu if you are entertaining.

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