So we have this new thing going on when I have to take care of dinner three days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday to be precise. It is something I enjoy, and it’s a way to wind down after a busy day. The problem is that I am a terrible meal planner. I do grocery shopping, and usually get what’s on sale, or what might inspire me to do a certain meal, but I don’t remember ever going with a pre-planned ingredient list for an upcoming meal. And usually what happens is that I wake up, open the fridge to sort of assess the situation of what I have or don’t have or what needs to be gotten rid of, then frantically search the Internet, cooking magazines or cookbooks for something that might resemble a decent dinner. For some strange reason, I always find that I have excessive mushrooms from the previous grocery shopping day. Don’t ask me why.
But I have my staples. I’m not that hopeless. For instance I make sure there are always a couple lemons and limes in the bottom fridge drawer. When skinless, boneless chicken is on sale, I pile up, and divide them up into portions and freeze them. Butter? I need that like gas in our car, okay? And, look! I have all I need for Chicken Piccata, a sublime marriage between sauteed floured chicken breast cut into thin cutlets and a lemony-buttery-garlicky sauce topped with lemon slices, capers and parsley. To be honest, I inherited this recipe from Steph, since she does the best Chicken Piccata in town. And it’s a big town.
If you look up Wikipedia on Chicken Piccata as every diligent cook should do, you will quickly discover that the dish originated somewhere in Italy (yet French would argue that). Strangely enough, the original chicken Piccata is made with… veal. So much for Gallus Domesticus. As for me, I’ll stick to my chick(en), although pork or turkey breast would work just fine. The recipe below will serve about 4 hungry people. I also added oven roasted potatoes just to add some starch.
Inspired from Cuisine At Home magazine:
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts flattened
all purpose flour for dusting the cutlets
2 tbs vegetable oil for sauteing
1/4 dry white wine
2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbs drained capers
2 tbs salted butter
6-7 lemon slices (one lemon)
chopped flat leaf parsley
There’s a certain art in flattening the breast halves. It matters to have a good meat pounder with a smooth bottom, as chicken breast is delicate and can be teared quite fast. I got about 4 or 5 flattened breast pieces out of the the two breast halves. Below are some very good video tips in Alton Brown’s Flat is Beautiful episode, starting at minute 2:40):
Once you have the cutlets flattened with your newly acquired meat flattening skills, season with kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Then, cover in plastic, and place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Things will move fast from here on.
Heat the vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the cutlets in flour, then remove the excess and saute them in a large skillet until brown (about 2-3 minutes per side).
Remove the cutlets onto a warm plate and cover with foil.
Making the sauce
While on medium high heat, deglaze the skillet with wine, add minced garlic and cook until most of the liquid evaporated about two minutes.
In goes the lemon juice, capers and broth. Reduce the sauce until it gets… saucy (5 minutes or so). Add the butter and lemon slices (they will ooze out more of their juices) and keep reducing another minute.
Pull the lemon slices on one side of the skillet and return the cutlets, making sure that they are coated well with the sublime saucy goodness.
Arrange the slices on top of the cutlets, garnish with parsley and you should be ready to serve. Of course, as warm as possible. Your guests or hungry family will look with different eyes at you than before.
Another day, I took a twist on this Chicken Piccata and I turned it into a killer pasta recipe (post will come soon). I think I just discovered gold.