Chicken Piccata is one of those really fast, one-pot dishes every home cook should have in their arsenal. The thin chicken breasts cook in minutes, and the butter, lemon, caper sauce is packed full of flavor. I love that I can walk in the door and have a complete meal of chicken piccata, rice, and steamed vegetables in less than 30 minutes. Let me show you how easy it is to make.
Cut a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in half horizontally and use a meat pounder to pound the thick side of the breast so the entire piece of chicken is the same thickness (about 1/4-inch). I like to cover the chicken with plastic wrap when doing this so little bits of chicken don't fly all over the kitchen.
Coat the chicken on both sides with a light dusting of flour.
I used Wondra Flour because it coats the chicken so lightly and evenly, but you can use plain flour instead.
Then I used a citrus squeezer to get all the juice out of one lemon. By the way, room temperature or warm lemons give up more juice than cold lemons. Zap your lemon in the microwave for about 10 seconds if needed.
For garnish, I used a channel knife to cut this design into another lemon. This step is completely unnecessary, but it makes the lemon slices look so pretty.
Then I sliced it thin with a mandoline slicer. If you don't have a mandoline, slice the lemon thin by hand.
They'll make a nice garnish. You can easily remove all the seeds when the slices are thin like this.
Okay, time to cook the chicken. Saute the chicken in a little butter and olive oil until slightly brown on both sides. Don't crowd the pan.
Side one is done and it's time to flip. This will only take 2 or 3 minutes per side, depending on how thin your chicken is.
Remove your beautifully browned chicken to a plate. We'll put it back in the pan after we make the pan sauce.
Now we make the pan sauce. Keep the butter and oil in there... they'll add a lot of flavor to the sauce. And see all those brown bits in the pan? They're going to add even more flavor. We're going to dissolve them in a mixture of chicken stock and white wine. If you don't like to cook with wine, you can totally use just chicken stock.
I always have homemade chicken stock in the freezer.
Today I used my homemade chicken stock to make the piccata. I used my stock to cook the rice I served as well. It comes in handy all the time. I use it for soups, cooking beans and grains, steaming vegetables.... wonderful, wonderful stuff. Check out my tutorial to see how easy it is to make your own awesome chicken stock for just pennies here.
Okay, back to tonight's dinner. Once the chicken stock and white wine have dissolved all those tasty brown bits in the pan, remove any lumpy blobs of solidified protein that might remain. A fine mesh skimmer is the perfect tool for the job. You really don't have to do this, but it'll make for a more attractive pan sauce later.
Now we're going to add capers. They're very pungent and a little go a long way. I only used about a teaspoon, DRAINED, for the amount of chicken I cooked here.
Time to add the freshly squeezed lemon juice too.
Whisk everything together well and let the sauce reduce by at least half, stirring occasionally. DO NOT add any salt and pepper. I know, I usually tell you to season with S & P as you go, but not this time. Trust me. Just wait until the sauce reduces to the consistency you like. You can add a teeny tiny amount of the Wondra Flour if you want to thicken the sauce a little, but I don't usually find it necessary. If you do add flour, add just a small amount, whisk it in well and allow the mixture to boil for at least a minute to cook out the raw flour flavor.
Once the sauce is finished reducing, taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Then whisk in a tablespoon of butter. Sorry I didn't get a photo of that, but trust me, it adds a velvety mouth-feel and lovely shine to the sauce.
Return the chicken to the pan and allow it to gently reheat for a minute or two by basting with that gorgeous pan sauce.
Last we'll pretty things up by adding the sliced lemons and some chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately. The extra pan sauce is great served over rice or pasta.
Simple Chicken Piccata
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally and pounded to about 1/4-inch thickness
1/4 cup flour for dredging the chicken
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine (or substitute more chicken stock)
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 sliced lemon
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
Dredge the chicken in flour; set aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a very large skillet.
Saute the chicken in the butter and oil until browned on both sides; remove from pan.
Add chicken stock and white wine to the butter and oil that remains in the pan; stirring to dissolve all the browned bits. Skim away any solids that don't dissolve if desired.
Add the lemon juice and capers; reduce by half, stirring occasionally.
Season reduced pan sauce if needed and whisk in remaining tablespoon of butter.
Return chicken to skillet and baste with pan sauce to gently reheat chicken.
Garnish with sliced lemons and chopped fresh parsley.
Note: The recipe makes a lot of pan sauce which is wonderful served over rice or sopped up with crusty bread.