Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken Piccata (or at least, my delicious version of it)

My blog is not named "squeeze of lime" for nothing, I love anything citrus and chicken piccata is one of my favorite savory dishes with a kick of lemon.  Everyone here also loves capers.  I'm pretty sure most recipes call for a tablespoon or two and not a quarter cup.  As always, make it to suit you and your family.  Start with nice fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  We eat chicken almost every night for dinner so we buy very nice pampered organic free-range local (as much as possible) from Whole Foods or the local butcher shop.  If you have frozen chicken breasts and there are any ice crystals remaining after thawing, the chicken is likely to tear.  Not a big deal, you just have some smaller pieces for serving.  Pounding chicken breasts to an even thickness will require some kind of meat mallet and waxed paper.  

The pounded chicken breasts obviously cook much faster than a nice plump intact chicken breast.  That's a good thing, but get the rest of the meal prepped before you start on the chicken so your chicken isn't left simmering too long on the stove.  The flour mixture you dredge the chicken in before it browns in the pan becomes the thickening agent for your piccata "sauce".  

If you are ever experimenting in the kitchen, remember a little dredging of the protein is key if you want a little substance to a wine or broth based sauce.   Deglazing your pan with wine is a lovely steamy warm step in the process.  The browned bits in the nonstick pan will easily stir in, but if you use a porcelain coated cast iron pan (like my LeCreuset pans) you may need to employ a flat whisk to loosen the good stuff.  

In a perfect world I would whip up a nice risotto like the one from my very first blog post from last April.  This was a post-lacrosse practice dinner this past week so instead I roasted some asparagus and warmed some fabulous Seeduction bread from Whole Foods and served a salad along with the chicken piccata.  


ingredients posing for my old camera :(
Chicken Piccata
2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 
flour, salt, pepper
olive oil
dry white wine
lemon
capers

Do you like how specific that is?  Sorry.  Not rocket science or the food world's rocket science:  baking.  Wing it!

Place about 1/2 C of flour in a shallow bowl or dish (always use a pie dish, old school) and stir in a little salt and pepper (maybe 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper). 

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts.  Place one breast between two sheets of waxed paper.  Pound to an even thickness starting in the plump middle and working your way out to the edges.  

Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating both sides.

Heat 2 T of olive oil in a saute or fry pan over medium-high heat.  Carefully place two or more pounded breasts into the heated pan (whatever you can fit in and still have room to turn the chicken).  Brown over medium to medium high heat (about 5-8 minutes on each side).  

Raise heat to medium-high to mostly high (never all the way unless you are boiling water) and pour in 1/2 C or so of the wine to deglaze the pan.  Use a flat whisk or wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  

Lower heat a bit and reduce the wine until your sauce is the desired "weight".  Add the capers by spooning them out of the jar and draining the liquid (some people like to rinse them in addition, feel free) starting with about 2 T of capers.  Squeeze in at least one-half lemon if not a nice big whole one.  That's it.  Give it a try!

pounding the chicken breasts

nicely pounded to fairly even thickness

a little flour, salt and pepper

cooking in the pan (note to self:  should have used LeCreuset for better browning)

de-glazing with white wine

added capers (abundantly) and adding lemon juice

ta-da, dinner!

2 comments:

  1. We love capers over here too! I never measure either---this is why I'd rather cook than bake. Yum...one of our fave meals. Now I'll be craving it :)

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  2. Thanks - whenever I'm at a loss for what to have for dinner I think of you. Tonight it will be chicken piccata and lemon risotto. Delish

    Off to the store to buy more lemons

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