As the old saying goes,
“The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.”
I had fully intended on posting a most amazing stuffed flank steak recipe for you guys today. I had visions of beautiful little steak pinwheels stuffed with spinach, prosciutto and sharp, white cheddar. I’d been craving it all week, and was looking forward to Sunday when I’d be able to put it together, followed by Monday when I’d share it with you.
We had a lovely dinner on Sunday night, but the pictures I took of our lovely dinner? Not so lovely. I promise that I’ll remake Sunday’s dinner another time (Darn, I have to eat it again…) and share the loveliest of photos with you at some point. Today, however, we won’t be talking about steak, we’re going to chat about Chicken Piccata.
If you order Chicken Piccata at your favorite restaurant, you’ll traditionally be served thinly pounded chicken breasts that have been floured and sautéed in a bit of butter or oil. The chicken is served with a light lemony sauce that’s finished with butter and capers. Sometimes, the sauce may include wine, other times (as with this recipe) it does not.
I’ve tried countless Chicken Piccata recipes and never made the same recipe twice. The sauces are either too lemony, not lemony enough, overpowered by wine (Is that possible? Yes.), not saucy enough, or there’s just not enough bang for my flavor (and time) buck. Good Chicken Piccata, though, is one of my favorite dishes, so I vowed to keep trying until I found one I really liked.
Thankfully, my years of sub-par Chicken Piccata have come to an end, now that I’ve discovered this recipe from the wonderful, hard working people at America’s Test Kitchen.
Preparation is key with a recipe like this. Once you start cooking, it all comes together rather quickly, so it’s best to get everything ready to go before starting. I measured out my capers, minced up a shallot and sliced up half of one lemon.
After the half lemon was sliced, I juiced the other half and another lemon and set the juice aside.
Onto the chicken. The recipe called for 4 chicken breasts and then said to split the breasts into 8 thinner cutlets. The chicken breasts I was using weren’t that thick (think the big bag of thin, frozen chicken breasts from Costco), so I didn’t bother slicing them. I used 5 of my thinner chicken breasts and called it a day.
I sprinkled them with salt and pepper and dredged them, lightly, in some flour.
Once everything was prepped, I was ready to go. I heated up some oil in my saute pan and browned up the chicken in two batches.
As the chicken cooked through, I removed it from the pan and placed it on a warmed plate in my oven, which was set at 200*.
Once the chicken was done, I added my minced shallot to the pan and let that sizzle up for a bit before deglazing the pan with some chicken broth and the sliced lemon.
After all of the rich, browned bits from the pan were worked back into the sauce, I added the lemon juice and capers and reduced the sauce down until it was about 1/3 cup.
After the sauce had reduced, I removed it from the heat and swirled in just a bit of butter. The butter helped to thicken the sauce and left it looking rich and velvety. I stirred in some chopped parsley to finish it off and then, the sauce was ready to meet the chicken!
In less than 20 minutes of actual work time, I had finally found the Piccata I’d been looking for! I served it with buttered pasta and steamed broccoli, both of which complimented the sauce nicely.
The whole family was happy, and I was thrilled that I’d finally found a Chicken Piccata recipe worth saving…and one that I felt comfortable passing along to you!
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
- 2 large lemons
- 4-6 chicken cutlets (about 1½ lbs.) or 4 larger chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into cutlets
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
- 1 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 cup chicken stock/low-sodium broth
- 2 Tbsp. small capers, drained
- 3 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 2 Tbsp. minced Italian parsley leaves
- Adjust the rack in your oven to the lower-middle position. Set a large ovenproof plate on the rack and heat your oven to 200*.
- Halve one lemon, lengthwise. Trim the ends from one half and cut into thin slices. Juice the remaining half and the other whole lemon, leaving you with about ¼ cup juice. Set aside.
- Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a large plate or pie plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake the cutlets to remove the excess flour.
- Heat a large (12 inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl the pan to coat. Lay half of the chicken pieces in the pan. Saute the pieces, without moving them, until lightly browned on the first side, about 2-2½ minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until the second side is browned, another 2-2½ minutes longer. Transfer the cooked chicken to the plate in the oven. Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the last pieces of chicken in the same way.
- Once all of the chicken has moved to the oven, add the minced shallot to the pan. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and lemon slices, increase the heat to high, and deglaze the pan. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and work them into the sauce. Simmer until the liquid reduces down to about ⅓ cup, about 4 minutes. Add the capers and the reserved lemon juice and simmer, again, until the sauce is reduced down to ⅓ cup, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. Swirl the pan until the butter melts and thickens the sauce. Stir in the parsley. Serve the sauce over the chicken.