By Cat, Dec 2007 (Photo, right from Wikimedia Commons)
Piccata is one of my favorite fancy dishes to serve, or to order when I eat out. Traditionally it is made with veal cutlets and flavored with lemon, white wine and capers, but I don’t eat much veal because commercial veal is a form of animal abuse. When I can get veal from a local 4-H kid, I go for it. Otherwise, I make Piccata with chicken breasts, as in this recipe.
Capers are a type of Mediterranean berry (Photo, left, from Wikimedia Commons). For culinary purposes they are usually fermented similar to olives, so have a similar flavor; both the buds and the berries are delicious. I highly recommend using the brined type, rather than canned, as they have much more flavor and nutritional value. Some grocers have a brined-olive bar, where you might also find brined capers.
Chicken Piccata, with Fried Capers
This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking, originally by Jennifer Armentrout (1). Serves 2.
I prefer to brine the breasts, which not only seasons them with salt but also helps them retain moisture. If you don’t brine, then you will need to season the slices of breast meat with unrefined sea salt in addition to pepper.
This recipe does not bread the cutlets, but you could certainly do that after brining the breasts, using unbleached white flour, beaten egg, and panko or other bread crumbs.
After squeezing the lemons for juice, save the spent lemon halves for another dish, or slice into thin slivers and add to a smoothy.
See also a related recipe, also from Fine Cooking, originally by Tony Rosenfeld: Lemon Chicken Breasts with Capers (2). Both recipes are sauteed on stove top, and both are relatively quick to make. However, my preference is for the more traditional version presented here.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 2 ea 6-oz chicken breast halves
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp drained nonpareil capers
- 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
- 1 lemon (for 2 Tbsp juice)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup homemade chicken broth
- ¼ cup vermouth or other dry white wine (optional)
- ½ tsp honey
- 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- lemon juicer
- cast iron skillet
- Prep: Brine the chicken breast halves for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Remove bones; remove skins if desired. Cut crosswise into ½ inch thick slices. Season with pepper; set aside. NOTE: For a more traditional Piccata, you can dust with flour, dip in beaten egg, and roll in bread crumbs, but I have not provided ingredient amounts for this.
- Meanwhile, rinse capers and pat dry with cotton or paper towel. Chop garlic and squeeze lemon juice.
- Cook: Heat oil in cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add capers and stir-fry until most open like flowers and become crisp and slightly brown, 1 minute or less. Using slotted spoon, transfer capers to dry paper towel to drain.
- Add chicken to hot pan and saute in batches until golden brown and just cooked through, 1 – 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to keep warm.
- Add garlic to hot pan and saute until lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add wine to deglaze pan, then add broth and boil until it’s reduced by about half. Stir in lemon juice and honey.
- Off the heat and add butter in 3 pieces; swirl pan until butter melts and thickens the sauce. Stir in the parsley and half of the capers. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Spoon sauce over chicken, and scatter remaining capers over all. Serve
- Fine Cooking: Chicken Piccata with Fried Capers recipe, by Jennifer Armentrout (finecooking.com/recipes/chicken_piccata_fried_capers.aspx)
- Fine Cooking: Lemon Chicken Breasts with Capers recipe, by Tony Rosenfeld (finecooking.com/recipes/lemon-chicken-breasts-capers.aspx