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Last night, I learned that it's easy to get restaurant-quality chicken at home. And I'm not talkin' about some MickyDee's or KFC. I'm referring to some tasty, skillet-sautéd chicken breasts. In particular, an Italian dish called Chicken Piccata. Yum.
There's not a lot of fancy ingredients, 'cept capers (and they won't break your budget). Preparing the chicken itself is easy and will work for a variety of dishes.
First, let me give a 'shout out' to America's Test Kitchen on PBS/KERA. They made it look so easy (and it is) and quick; and provided me with the basis of my recipe.
Secondly, although I used a non-stick skillet to prepare this dish (that's all I have), a "regular" skillet/sauté pan works best for this recipe. It allows the chicken to stick a bit while cooking so that you have some tasty tidbits to work with when deglazing.
Okay, on with the cooking!
- 2 large lemons
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into cutlets *
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1/2 c. flour
- 4 Tbl. vegetable oil
- 1 small shallot, minced OR 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 c. low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth
- 1 Tbl. small capers, drained and rinsed
- 3 Tbl. unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Tbl. minced parsley (fresh is best)
* To slice chicken breasts into cutlets, place the breast flat on a cutting board and place your hand firmly on top (thickest section near thumb). With a sharp knife, carefully slice the breast in two through the width of the chicken. The best I can do to describe it is to make the chicken breast like a book, but then cut it in half. (Sorry, it's hard to describe sans visuals.)
- Place a heat-safe plate in the oven and heat to 200°. You'll use this to keep the chicken warm while you make the sauce.
- Halve one lemon "pole-to-pole"; trim ends from one half and cut crosswise into 1/8" thick slices. Set aside. Juice remaining half and whole lemon to obtain 3 Tbl. juice; reserve. (A beater from a hand-held mixer works wonderfully to ream the lemon.)
- Sprinkle both sides of the cutlets with salt and pepper. Measure flour onto a plate or pie tin; coat each cutlet with flour, and shake to remove excess.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add 2 Tbl. oil and coat pan. Lay half of the chicken pieces in the skillet; sauté without moving them until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn cutlets and cook another 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove pan from heat and transfer cutlets to warming plate in oven.
- Add remaining 2 Tbl. oil to skillet and heat until shimmering. Add remaining chicken pieces and repeat steps above.
- Once all the chicken is cooked and keeping warm in the oven, add shallot (or garlic) to the skillet and lower to medium heat. Sauté until fragrant. Add stock and lemon slices, increase heat to high, and scrape skillet bottom with wooden spoon or spatula to loosen browned bits. Simmer until liquid reduces to 1/3 cup (about 4 minutes).
- Add lemon juice and capers; simmer until sauce reduces again to 1/3 c. (about 1 minute). Remove pan from heat; swirl in butter until melted and sauce is thickened. Stir in parsley.
- Spoon over chicken. Serve with cooked pasta with a little butter and parmesan cheese and a salad.
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