Recipe: Lemon Chicken Piccata
This dish is great dinner to make during a busy week or whenever you want to make something that requires little prep work.
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp capers
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Prepare the chicken thighs. First, pat the pieces dry. You want to make the thighs approximately 1/4″ thick. To flatten them, use a mallet, a small skillet, a large can, or even the side of a chef’s knife. To avoid a making a mess, use a sheet of plastic wrap on the cutting board, and a second sheet on top of the piece of chicken. This will prevent splattering and help the flesh spread evenly as you take out the day’s frustration on your dinner.
After flattening each piece to the same thickness, season both sides of each thigh with salt and pepper.
Optional: If you want better coloring for the chicken (and a better sauce), dredge the thighs in all-purpose flour and shake loose.
2. Place a skillet on medium high heat. Avoid using a nonstick pan, because you want bits of the chicken to stick to pan as it cooks. Add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is sizzling, add the chicken and cook about 4 minutes or until golden brown, then flip and cook another 4 minutes. Remove the chicken onto a plate and tent loosely with foil.
If your pan is on the smallish side, saute the chicken in batches. If you try to do it all at once, the chicken may not cook as evenly, and it might be more difficult to get a good fond (the tasty brown bits that stick to the pan which become the basis of the sauce).
3. Reduce heat to medium low. Add the chopped shallots and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Then add the wine and lemon juice to deglaze the pan. Use your whisk or spoon to scrape up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. (You really want to get it all loose to make the sauce good!) Simmer the liquids until reduced by half.
4. Add the capers and the chicken, including the juices that accumulated. Simmer for a couple of minutes and add half the parsley at the very end.
5. Remove the chicken from the pan again, and serve over a small bed of thin pasta noodles (optional). Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon the sauce over chicken and garnish with the remaining parsley.
* If you want a healthier version of this dish, you can substitute boneless, skinless breasts for thighs. The breasts lack the stronger chicken flavor, but do have less fat. To flatten, follow the instructions above, though you should probably butterfly the breasts (cut them in half lengthwise, but not all the way through so the breast unfolds into a heart shape), or if you have really large breasts (chicken!!) you’re better off cutting them in half completely before pounding them. Reduce the initial cooking time by about a minute, since the meat isn’t as dense as the thighs.