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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicken Piccata

You gotta love the types of dishes that are interchangeable. You can do this dish with chicken or veal, and I think it (untraditionally, of course) would be rather tasty with a firm fish or even shrimp. It is also acceptable to use pork instead of chicken or veal. Vegetarians or vegans can prepare the dish using thin slices of tofu or eggplant. 

Piccata translates to piquant or piquancy, which (in one definition) means tart or zesty. Piccata does have a tart sauce, with traditional additions of lemon juice, white wine and capers. It’s also quite easy to prepare, especially in small batches. The dish takes about 20 to 30 minutes to make, so it's a speedy weeknight meal.

Pounding the meat to the desired thinness is probably the most time consuming process. Instead of spending more money at the grocery store for the already thin cutlets, I usually horizontally slice a  chicken breast in half and then pound it out to the thickness I want, usually about an 1/8 of an inch thick. You can reduce any chance of a flying chicken mess by placing the meet in a sealable plastic bag, or by putting it between two layers of plastic wrap.

If you want a good laugh, hand your kids the mallet and then let them do the flattening for you...hilarity will follow! Plus, it's a great way to have them (or you) work out any pent up aggression...

Seasoned and dredged chicken makes for sticky fingers.

Brown those birds, remove from pan and keep 'em warm while the rest of the magic happens.

Brown some shroomage - remove and set aside.

Add garlic and wine to the pan and reduce by about half.

Stir in broth-flour mixture, lemon juice and salt. Simmer and stir in parsley, capers and butter.

Bring chicken back to the party and heat through. We do have mushroom haters, so I only added the mushrooms to the party when those that do not like them were served. Otherwise, throw them in when you reintroduce the chicken.

Serve the chicken over pasta and smother with sauce!

Chicken Piccata

serves 4

1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 chicken cutlets, (3/4-1 pound total), trimmed
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 10-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 teaspoons butter
Hot cooked angel hair pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.

Meanwhile, whisk 5 teaspoons flour and broth in a small bowl until smooth. Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; cover and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add garlic and wine to the pan and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in parsley, capers, butter and the reserved mushrooms. Measure out 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce. Toss the pasta in the pan with the remaining sauce. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and the reserved sauce.

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