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When Life Gives You Lemons… Make Chicken Piccata!

chickenpiccata1It’s probably apparent by now that I tend to favor tangy, bright, acidic flavors. I’m sure, in fact, that those very words would loom large in a tag cloud of my posts. I love the spritzy, mouth-filling tingle of the lemony, the vinegary, and the just plain puckery.

Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite ways to hit my sour sweet spot–it’s also a great weeknight supper of some distinction since it doesn’t take that long and is uber-delicious. It’s certainly my favorite thing to do with chicken breasts, which–while speedy–can be a bit of a drag on their own. But napped in a smooth lemony sauce punctuated with briny capers and verdant parsley, it’s hard to imagine a better preparation for them.

I like to serve this with garlicky sauteed zucchini ribbons and orzo tossed with chevre, lemon zest, and parsley.

Chicken Piccata
(I probably looked up a recipe for this once but I’ve been making it so long at this point I have no idea whose it would have been–Giada? Ina? Lunchlady Doris?)
Serves 6

2 whole chicken breasts
1 c flour
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
4 tbs vegetable oil
1/3 c white wine or vermouth
1 c low sodium chicken stock
1/3 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c capers, rinsed
3 tbs unsalted butter
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley

First of all, get your mise en place together: juice the lemons, chop the parsley, rinse the capers, and do whatever all else you need to do for any side dishes. Then put the flour in a broad, shallow dish and season well with salt and pepper.

Once you’ve got all your vegetable-y things squared away, it’s time to turn your attention to the chicken. Split the breasts in half if they’re still whole, remove the tender, and split horizontally in two. Given the way the breast halves are shaped, you’ll generally end up with a two pieces about 1/2″ thick–one the the size of the uncut piece, and one a bit smaller. The thickness is the key part here, so carry on.

In a large pan, heat half the oil over medium high heat. Dredge half of the chicken in the flour, shaking well to remove the excess, and saute in the pan till golden– no more than 2 min per side. (You’re looking for color, here, not to cook all the way through.) Remove chicken to a plate and flour and saute remaining chicken. It’s a good idea to cook similarly sized pieces in the same batch so they cook evenly. Bigger pieces first, and the smaller ones and tenders last.

Once all chicken has been lightly browned, deglaze the pan with the wine and scrape the bottom to dislodge any browned bits. Add the stock, lemon juice, and capers and return the chicken and any juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through, 5-7 min. Make a little space in the pan and whisk in the butter one tbs at a time to thicken sauce. Toss with chicken to combine. Adjust seasoning, adding additional salt, pepper, or lemon to taste. Remove from heat, stir in the parsley, and serve immediately.

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