Tuesday Mar 08 2011
Rachel's Recipes: Chicken piccata a quick, easy meal
By: Rachel Chaddock, Special to the Telegraph
It may surprise you to learn that I am not of Italian ancestry. That does not mean that I don’t enjoy a good Italian meal, nor that I am incapable of recognizing one when I come across it. However, most of my early experience with Italian food (or Italian-American food, if you want to be specific), came in the form of excellent pastas covered in red sauce and cheese (the latter if I was lucky). Chicken Piccata didn’t come across my radar until I encountered the dish in a restaurant, and I wasn’t even the one who ordered it. I did, however, demand a bite, and found that my eating partner had (as inevitably happens with me) made the better choice from the menu (I have a bad habit of second guessing myself in restaurants and then, in a blind panic when the waiter appears, ordering the least expensive thing on the menu). This is a light dish with a surprisingly complex flavor from the wine, lemon, and capers. And, as I discovered, it is also quite simple and quick to make, so excellent for an after work meal. I don’t really love boneless skinless chicken breasts, because I find their flavor lacking and it is easy to dry them out, but this treatment gives them a crusty exterior and a moist inside, and the sauce is good enough to eat with a spoon. If you have a caper-phobe in your family, as I do, just pour off the sauce from the jar and leave off the capers (which do, technically, resemble little green army man heads floating in the sauce. There’s your appalling visual for the day). You’ll get the flavor without the fear. This recipe makes two generous servings, or four stingy ones. Chicken Piccata 4 chicken cutlets (purchased, or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise and pounded into cutlets) Salt and freshly ground black pepper 3/4 cup all purpose flour 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional - 1/4 cup white wine) 1 cup chicken stock Juice of 1 lemon (3-4 tablespoons) 2 tablespoons capers (with juice - about 2 teaspoons of caper juice) 2 tablespoons unsalted butter Parsley, for garnish Season chicken with salt and pepper and then coat lightly on both sides with flour. Set on a baker’s drying rack for about 20 - 30 minutes (this dries the chicken a bit and makes the flour adhere better). Preheat the oven to low (about 200 degrees) Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Saute the chicken 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip and saute the other side for another 2 minutes (chicken will be golden brown). Transfer the cutlets to a baking sheet and put in the oven to keep warm. Now, the sauce. Drain the excess fat from the skillet and then add the wine (if using) to deglaze the pan. If omitting the wine, just add the chicken stock and stir to bring up all the brown bits (or fond, if you want to be fancy), from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the sauce by about half (5 minutes or so) over medium heat. Add the lemon juice and capers and cook for a minute more. Add in the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Pour the finished sauce over the chicken cutlets, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately. Rachel Chaddock can be reached at email@example.com. She welcomes reader questions and comments. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.