Searching for something different to cook for dinner? Here's a classic dish that's quick and easy, Chicken Piccata. It's really nothing more than a few cutlets, lemon juice, white wine, chicken broth and parsley. Capers are traditionally added but as a 'pantry chef' if I don't find them in the cupboard, they don't go in the sauce. It has to be about simplicity and ease of creating a quick delicious dish.
Fresh basil can be substituted for the parsley, or try some baby arugula. Meyer lemons are in season now, they are a little sweeter than a typical lemon, are thin skinned and full of juice. The Meyers are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange and in Southern California we can grow these trees in a pot or in the back yard. The trees typically grow to less than 5 ft. tall and even shorter in a pot. Try Armstrong Nursery or H & H in Lakewood and if you can't find Meyer lemons at your store, try www.melissas.com.
Make sure the meat is pounded thin; this is what is referred to as scaloppine in a cook’s world. You can buy cutlets or chicken breast skinless, boneless or a whole chicken and cut it up reserving the rest for another dish, maybe a cacciatore. Place the chicken breast into a freezer type bag and pound the meat to an even thickness.
Place flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper, mixing it well. Heat a sauté pan, add butter and oil; when the butter has melted, dredge cutlet in flour shaking off excess and place into the pan without crowding the pieces.
While the chicken cooks it will give off moisture and if that can't evaporate you'll end up steaming the chicken instead of browning it. Don't force the chicken to release from the pan; when it's nice and brown it will release on it's own, turn and brown on the other side. If the butter starts to burn, turn the heat down and continue. Remove the chicken pieces when browned to a plate and make the sauce.
To the same pan add the chicken broth, wine and lemon juice, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the liquid reduce slightly, about 2-3 minutes, season with salt and pepper, if needed, and stir in the capers. Return chicken to the pan to heat, spooning some sauce over the cutlets.
Serve the Chicken Piccata with a side of any kind of pasta; I like a rigatoni with marinara sauce. Yes, I have been known to use a jar pasta sauce, I like Muir Glen Cabernet Marinara. I found it on sale this week at Sprouts Market.
Garnish the chicken with chopped parsley or like me, the arugula and you have dinner on the table in less than half an hour.
4-6 chicken cutlets
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1-2 lemons, juiced
1-2 tablepoons capers
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley, arugula or basil