Chicken Piccata

Nicknamed “Chicken Picky-ccata,” as an homage to my pint-sized dinner patrons that evening.

“I want to make something new tonight!” I said to my husband Saturday morning.  It seemed like a great idea at the time.  Of course, with the sunshine beaming in through the kitchen window, and an equally cheery mug of coffee in my hand, I felt ready for anything.

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Paging through some recipes, we quickly landed on one that just felt right that day: Chicken Piccata, a lemony, caper-y Italian dish, originally prepared with veal.   I rounded out the menu with plans for some simple mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.  My grocery list was complete and my mouth was already watering.

Fast forward to that evening.  One thing or another, okay let’s call it ‘life,’ caused me to get behind schedule that afternoon and before I knew it, my side-tracked-slightly-frazzled-slightly tired-6pm-self was attempting to make a recipe for the first time while my three wonderful-but-hungry-and-tired-and-not-feeling-very-adventurous-foodwise-children orbited me like wobbly satellites.  I have often said, usually while watching Chopped, or some similar competitive cooking show, that a real test of culinary focus and epicurian athleticism is completing a meal with a hungry toddler hanging on your leg and said toddler’s older siblings bickering with each other ten feet away using decidedly non-indoor voices.  Forget the pressure of the stop clock, how about staying on track while hearing your name every 18.5 seconds?

Nonetheless, the Chicken Piccata turned out really tasty and I will definitely make it again.  The sauce was nicely balanced, with just enough tang from the lemon and the capers, contrasted with just a touch of creaminess from the butter and broth base.

The younger generation at the table, however, was less enthused.  Bite after slogging bite, they made their way through the meal, failing to recognize all the hungry children of the world despite my repeated reminders.  However, I remain unfazed to the lack luster reception, as I can think of countless “favorite” foods that were once considered the enemy to their existence.  So new foods will continue to come their way, in part because I’m more stubborn than they are, but more importantly to help ensure that they will not be ordering chicken tenders off the children’s menu in their 20s.  Be ready, I tell them, who knows what that next sunny, caffeinated morning will inspire…

Chicken Piccata

Adapted from “Chicken Piccata Done Right,” Cooks’ Illustrated All-Time Best Recipes

serves 4

ingredients:

3 lemons

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut in half

1/2 cup white rice flour

salt and pepper

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed briefly

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

3 tablespoons minced parsley

directions:

Cut a lemon in half, lengthwise.  Slice one of the halves into 1/4 inch thick slices, set aside.  Squeeze juice from remaining lemons into a small bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add garlic and cook lightly until fragrant, less than a minute.  Stir in broth and increase heat to medium-high.  Simmer until reduced to about a cup.  Add capers and reserved lemon slices.  Reduce heat slightly and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Whisk in butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Reduce heat to low or turn off and cover if sauce is desired thickness.

Pat chicken pieces dry and place them on a plastic cutting board.  Cover pieces with plastic wrap and pound until even, about 1/2 inch thick.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Dredge each piece in flour, shake off excess and transfer to a large platter.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add some of the chicken cutlets, being careful not to overcrowd the skillet.  Cook until golden brown on the first side, turn them over and reduce heat slightly.  Cook until cutlets are no longer pink.  Transfer to a large ovensafe serving dish, tent lightly with aluminum foil and keep warm in oven. Work in batches to cook the remaining cutlets, adding remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet when necessary.

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Stir chopped parsley into the sauce and pour over chicken.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

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