I've eaten classic chicken piccata numerous times at fancy italian joints, but for one simple, particular reason I never attempted to cook it at home. The reason? I loathed capers outside of this dish.
I believe this stems from years ago when I worked at a bagel shop. One of the most popular savory items was a plain bagel with plain cream cheese, capers and lox (smoked salmon). I was perfectly happy to serve it to eager customers, but the idea of eating it myself...was revolting. Okay, maybe that's a strong word, but I strongly disliked it, especially the lox.
However, after a chicken piccata or two, my opinion of capers changed dramatically. I learned to accept them in certain circumstances. I've been meaning to purchase capers for awhile now, but kept putting it off. Yesterday I bit the bullet and snagged a tiny bottle. And made an adapted version of Giada De Laurentiis' Food Network recipe.
This dish trumps anything else I've made.
It was glorious.
You're welcome to make Giada's simpler version if you don't care for onion, garlic, artichokes or wine. But, I strongly urge you to try it my way. SO much flavor in every bite!
And my version is slightly healthier than other recipes floating around the interwebs. That's cause it uses less butter, garlic and flour. Honestly, you don't need an exorbitant amount of fat when you have additional flavor from the aromatics (onion, garlic), artichokes and wine. Unless you're like Paula Deen and have a love affair with butter. In that case, have at it!
Chicken Piccata with Artichokes, Onion, Garlic & Capellini
Organic lemon pepper chicken cutlets sauteed in butter and olive oil then topped with a tangy sauce made from pan drippings, stock, white wine, fresh lemon juice, capers, artichoke hearts, onion and garlic. Served over capellini pasta. A lightened up and more aromatic version of the classic chicken piccata recipe.
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' Chicken Piccata
1 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed & cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (season it if desired)
Fine sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste (for chicken and sauce)
Granulated garlic and lemon pepper seasoning, to taste (optional)
2 1/2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of salted butter
1/2 a yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 cup of chicken stock (low-sodium, unsalted or homemade)
3/4 cup of dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
Juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup of capers, drained
8 ounces (1/2 a package) of capellini (or angel hair pasta)
6 artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
Wash and dry the chicken breasts, then trim excess fat. Cut each breast in half lengthwise so each half is about the thickness of a cutlet. If it's too thick or uneven, cover both sides in plastic wrap and pound flat until it's a uniform thickness (I almost never do this). You'll have an extra cutlet, so store it in the fridge for later. Measure out the flour onto a large plate. If desired, season it for extra flavor. Then season both sides of all three cutlets with salt and pepper, to taste. Optionally, use granulated garlic and your favorite seasoning blend (I prefer organic lemon pepper).
Heat a pan to medium-high heat and add in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Once that's hot, toss in 2 tablespoons of the butter. While that's melting, lightly dreg both sides of each cutlet in the flour. Add the chicken to the pan and cook each side for about three minutes, give or take. (If it's a particularly thin piece it may take less, if thicker a few minutes more). While that's cooking, fill a stock pot 3/4 full with water and set the heat to high to boil the water for the pasta. Remove the chicken when there is no pink left in the center, place on a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm.
Reduce the heat to medium and add in the other 1/2 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil to the pan drippings. Peel and dice half the onion and add to the pan. Let that cook for 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic cloves. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute, then pour in the chicken stock, wine, lemon juice and capers. Stir, scraping up the little bits left over from the chicken, then let the sauce cook until it reduces by half. You may need to increase the temperature to medium-high to speed up the reduction. By now the water should be boiling, add the capellini (or angel hair pasta), cook according to the packaged directions (should be less than 5 minutes) and drain when finished. When the sauce has reduced, drain and chop the artichoke hearts and add that into the sauce along with the last 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir while it melts. Turn off the burner and remove from heat. To serve, portion out 1/3 of the pasta and one chicken cutlet on each plate then generously spoon sauce over everything.
Notes & Tips
My chicken cutlets were still moist after rinsing and seasoning them, so I didn't need any additional liquid to make the flour adhere. If yours are too dry, feel free to sprinkle chicken with water, cooking spray or additional olive oil.
If you like a lot of sauce, increase the stock and wine, but make sure to taste the sauce and increase the seasonings slightly.
Question for Discussion: What's your favorite sauce for poultry? Answer in the comments section below.