Wednesday, December 8, 2010
One of the perks of my job as a nurse practitioner is that I get to have lunch in the medical staff dining room on weekdays. They set up a decent salad bar, and several choices of hot dishes and sides.. I won't mention the desserts, because today I want to take a break from all the sweetness that abounds during this time of year. Besides, I need to leave that stuff alone anyway! Unfortunately, it's still "hospital food", and the Chicken Piccata I had yesterday left me really hungry for Chicken Piccata made somewhere other than the hospital kitchen. The hospital version was certainly edible, but the flour coating was falling off in big, sticky sheets, I had to use my imagination to appreciate much in the way of lemon flavor, and I think mine had all of 3 capers on it. I shouldn't complain though, because I could have been eating cafeteria food, and I'm guessing they probably weren't serving Chicken Piccata in the cafeteria.
Chicken Piccata is a really simple dish to make, so I don't know why I haven't tried it at home before. It's really just a tenderized chicken breast simmered in a simple lemony sauce made with either chicken stock or white wine, and some capers.
Capers are what make it special, I think. I love that piquant burst of flavor that fills your mouth when you bite into them. Capers are the immature flower buds of a perennial plant which is native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia. After harvesting, the buds are dried in the sun and then pickled in a brine made with vinegar or wine. The ones I used were packaged in balsamic vinegar. Yum! You can find capers in the grocery store next to the pickles and olives.
When it came down to searching for the perfect recipe, I just did a Google search for Chicken Piccata, and got a whole list of sites. This is really because I was too lazy to search through all my cookbooks. I looked at several of them - myrecipes.com, simplyrecipes.com, epicurious.com, squidoo.com to name a few... there are more. The one I settled on, though, came from one of my favorite Food Network stars, Giada De Laurentiis on foodnetwork.com. I liked her recipe the best because it used basic ingredients and looked easy to make. I have 3 of Giada's cookbooks, and her Turkey Meatballs with Marinara Sauce is a staple at my house. Next time I make a batch I will be sure and share it with you! And yes it's true, I was even too lazy to look through my Giada cookbooks.
I keep trying to post links, but for some reason they don't show up in the finished post, so if any of you have any helpful hints for me I would love to hear from you!
Giada's Chicken Piccata
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt (regular salt is fine here) and freshly ground black pepper (or not)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or just stick a sprig or two on the side like I did)
You can see here that I already strayed from the recipe in that I had the cute guy behind the meat counter run a couple of chicken breasts through the tenderizer for me. When you use tenderized chicken, you can cut the finished dish with a fork.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Seriously now, did you think I was really going to measure my oil and butter? For me, it was more like a couple of turns of EVOO (oops, wrong show...) and cut off a few good sized chunks of butter.
When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. I only made 2 pieces, so that was easy. (It's okay if you don't time this, just cook it until it is a nice golden brown)
When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate.
Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil.
When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat, then remove chicken from pan and set aside on a plate.
Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers.
I used these cute little Meyer lemons I got at Whole Foods.
Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley. I thought a couple of lemon slices made it look even more festive.
As you can see, I strayed from the recipe yet again and got a little carried away with the capers. I used the whole jar. I was feeling deprived. It was a bit much, but I think if I had made 4 pieces of chicken like Giada did, it might have been okay. I do have to admit that my husband made a snide remark today about not putting any lemon on his food... so I guess he wasn't a fan. *sigh* Oh well, that's what I get for marrying a regular meat and potatoes guy. This chicken would be darn good even without the sauce, so next time there will just be more lemony goodness for me!
If the link below is not clickable, just copy and paste into your browser window. Enjoy!