The very first time I had Chicken Piccata, I was just amazed at how delicious it was. The lemon was not over-powering, or over-acidic, and the butter added to the depth of flavor. I have since had many versions of this recipe — some so acidic they were downright unpalatable, some with so much added butter that the chicken seemed to be floating in it. Or perhaps there were so many different ingredients that the delicate flavors of the chicken, lemon and shallot were completely overwhelmed.
This particular recipe is quick and simple — full of lemon flavor, but not overpowering. This should take no more than 15-20 minutes, from start to finish. A quick evening meal that I usually serve with linguine (this recipe, in particular), and some good bastone italian bread.
The term “piccata” is defined as a thin slice meat – veal, beef, pork or chicken, with lemon and caper sauce.
Some people either don’t care for capers, or don’t have access to them. Replace them with black olives – not necessarily for the taste, but for the texture.
4 chicken breasts, boneless (about 1.5-2 pounds) – sliced thin
1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock or white wine (not a sweet wine — use Pinot Grigio, or similar)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons parsley, minced (optional)
Heat the oven to 200 Fahrenheit.
Halve one of the lemons from tip to bottom lengthwise (from pole to pole), and then cut 1/2 of the lemon into thin slices and set aside. Juice the other half, as well as the remaining lemon.
Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, and then coat the chicken in flour, shaking to remove any excess flour.
Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and then add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Saute the cutlets — don’t move them — about 2-2.5 minutes on each side. Then move them to the oven. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and then saute the remaining cutlets as before.
Once the chicken is cooked and in the oven, add the shallot and garlic to the pan. Saute for about 20 seconds, and then add the stock and sliced lemon. Heat on high, and stir, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the good bits mixed in. Reduce this to about 1/3 (should take less than 5 minutes), and then add the lemon juice, a tablespoon or so of capers (or not, if you don’t care for them, replacing with black olives if you have them), and then reduce this to about 1/3 again — should take less than 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, and stir in the softened butter, and stir until melted. This will thicken the sauce a bit. Add the parsley.
Remove the chicken from the oven and pour the sauce over the chicken.