11 February 2013

Eats: chicken piccata

Sundays in the Team P household are for family phone calls. Mr. P calls his parents, I call mine, maybe get a little Facetime in with the baby nephew. And yesterday, every one of the family phone calls contained “What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?” as a topic of discussion.

Uhhh. Hmm. I... honestly hadn’t thought about it until you just asked?

I mentioned last year (while scrambling for a vaguely suitable date-night recipe in my miniscule arsenal of already-photographed recipes) that I’m not really a Valentine’s Day person. Part of it is that I’m not particularly a Valentine’s Day sort of romantic. For me, a practical, thoughtful gift trumps flowers and chocolates, and I would almost always rather eat ice cream on the couch together than go out to a fancy dinner.

[I am also probably still a little resentful about the leftover Valentine’s candy at my red-and-pink birthday parties growing up, too, if we’re being honest.]

So we’ll be celebrating a quiet Valentine’s Day here at home with honeymoon pizza, and it will be grand. If your plans are similar but you’re still looking for a tasty weeknight dish, might I suggest today’s recipe? And if not Valentine’s Day, well, this is delicious and fast any ol’ night.

Today I’m talking about chicken piccata, which I made after being inspired from this post from Beth at Budget Bytes. It’s almost entirely a pantry dish if your pantry looks like mine, but it tastes like an entrée at a fancy Italian restaurant. That’s my kind of dinner!

You start with chicken breasts. I used two half-pound breasts that I cut lengthwise (my preferred method to pounding them out), yielding four quarter-pound servings. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and toss around in a few tablespoons of flour:

You don’t want a thick coating, just a dusting.

Then sauté the chicken in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. If they’re thin, it should only take a few minutes per side. In six or seven minutes, they should be totally done!

Set them aside, then start making the sauce. Two tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon each of minced garlic and flour over medium heat:

The flour wasn’t in the source recipe, but I knew I was going to add more liquid than the original and I wanted to make sure the sauce wouldn’t be too thin.

After just a few minutes (don’t burn the garlic!), add one-third cup each of white wine and chicken broth, and – if you like it lemony like us – a quarter-cup of lemon juice. If you’re not that into lemons, back off to a few tablespoons instead or use fresh juice from a lemon (that will yield 2-3 tablespoons). Either way, the acidity of the wine and lemon should allow you to scrap any browned bits from the chicken off the bottom of the pan.

Oh, and PARSLEY! Lots!

I didn’t chop fresh parsley but rather, used a big handful of the dried stuff (which I’d frozen). Goodness knows I have enough to spare after buying a giant bag from the Italian market for a dollar. I’d say I added at least several tablespoons; you can add as much as you’d like.

Then it’s time for the one ingredient I didn’t already have in my arsenal: capers!

I had never intentionally eaten capers so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect... or even what they are. Turns out capers are, uh, pickled rosebuds. Who knew?! Alls you really need to know is that they’re a little tangy, and you need just a tablespoon.

Let the sauce simmer for a moment, then add the chicken back in to warm it back up...

And there you have it! I really liked this dish – like the chicken saltimbocca, it was nice to have an Italian-style dish that wasn’t drowning in cheese or tomatoes. But for how fancy it seemed, it used only the most basic ingredients (no expensive prosciutto, unlike the saltimbocca)! And now that I have a jar of capers, I’m good to go for awhile.

Only downside was that I perhaps overcooked or over-stirred the capers, as they sort of fell apart. But they tasted the same, so all that it missed was a bit of presentation!

Speaking of, you could present this to your Valentine sweetheart this week:

And you could put a little more effort into the side dishes if you want, or keep it simple like we did – Caesar salad, focaccia breadsticks, boom. Dinner’d. Light some candles and have ice cream for dessert (on the couch, DUH) and you are more than good to go.

Hope you enjoy this dish, whether you make it for Valentine’s Day, Singles Appreciation Day, or any random weeknight!