Sunday, August 10, 2008

chicken piccata

My brother came over the other day to learn a dish to cook for a date. We had to have something without alcohol, as he's underage and can't buy it to cook with himself, and something that used chicken breasts rather than a whole chicken, in the interest of time. I looked through New Best Recipes and chicken piccata was the first recipe I found that fit the bill. After reading the list of ingredients, I was expecting a light, sissified dish, the sort that comes with a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil and makes it so dieters can still eat at Italian restaurants. Which, as you probably already know, is not at all what chicken piccata tastes like. It was an explosion of sour, salty, smoky flavor. I was amazed that so much flavor was packed into the 1/3 C of sauce you're expected to divide between six servings. (We served ours with double helpings of sauce, and I'd still like to increase the portions.) This was an entirely enjoyable meal, and when my brother made it again for the rest of my family, all but one of my siblings loved it. No mean feat in a family where one child hates mashed potatoes, another hates hamburgers, and still another won't eat green vegetables.

chicken piccata (New Best Recipes, Cook's Illustrated)

2 large lemons
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5-6 oz ea.), tenderloins removed and fat trimmed
salt and ground black pepper
.5 C flour
4 TB vegetable oil
a small shallot, minced, or 1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 C low-sodium chicken broth
2 TB small capers, rinsed
3 TB unsalted butter, softened
2 TB minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, set a large heatrpoof serving or dinner plate on the rack and heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Halve one lemon pole to pole. Trim the ends from one half and cut it crosswise into slices 1/8-1/4" thick; set aside. Juice the remaining half and whole lemon to obtain .25 C juice; reserve.
3. Sprinkle both sides of the cutles generously with salt and pepper. Measure the flour into a shallow aking dish or pie plate. Working with one cutlet at time, coat with the flour and shake to remove the ecxcess.

4. Heat 2 TB of the oil in a heavy-bottom 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. lay half of the chicken cutlets in the skillet. Saute the cutlets until lightly browned on the first side, 2 to 2.5 minutes. Turn the cutlets and cook until the second side is lightly browqned, 2 to 2.5 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the cutlets to the plate in teh oven. Add the remaining 2 TB oil to the now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the remaining chicken cutlets and repeat.

5. Add the shallot to the now-empty skilled and return the skillet to medium heat. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds (10 seconds for garlic). Add the broth and lemon slices, increase the heat to high, and sc rape the pan bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula to loosen the browned bits. Simmer until the liquid reduces to about 1/3 C, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved lemon juice and capers and simmer until the sauce reduces again to 1/3 cup, about 1 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the butter until it melts and thickens the sauce. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

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