Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Chicken Piccata Triumph of Will

I would rate chicken piccata as a moderately easy recipe. And yet, my efforts to make it took me to a deep low, a moment in which I thought my meal might be unsalvageable and that at 8:30 p.m., I would have to scrap my dinner plans completely.

But this is not a story like that, for I — I of little experience — triumphed! I think I'm learning lessons here, y'all!

Chicken piccata is a dish I've often heard about, but could never remember quite what it entailed. Let me refresh your memory: lemony, peppery, caper-y goodness. If I didn't use so much butter (guilty!), I could almost call this a light dish. I used the Giada DeLaurentis recipe, which is detailed here. Hint: When it says SIMMER, remember not to CONTINUE BOILING. Ah, foreshadowing!

I started by dredging a salt-and-peppered chicken breast in flour, and then frying it in a tablespoon of butter and olive oil.

 Once it was browned on all sides, I set it aside.

Meanwhile, I added 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 1/3 cup of lemon juice and a 1/4 cup of capers (no brine!) to the pan, scraped up the brown bits and brought that to a boil. I then added the chicken back to the pan; the directions said to turn the mixture down to a simmer and cook until the chicken was completely done.

 But me, I didn't follow the directions. I completely missed the word "simmer" and watched, perplexed, as my capers and butter merged into a horrific tar. Seriously, it looked like I was cooking my chicken in the La Brea pits. I was totally confused by this, until I realized, DUH, I shouldn't still be boiling.

At that point, I felt pretty hopeless. I had a barely cooked chicken breast and no sauce. I thought the chicken breast might be edible, still, despite having some tar burnt to it. So I decided, you know what? I'll just start the sauce over in a new pan. Old Amber would have wallowed in grief!

 So I repeated with the butter, oil, chicken stock, lemon juice and capers, and then whisked in more butter and parsley.

I spooned it over my chicken (so much work for just one person!) and dove in. To my surprise, it was still tasty; the capers add a brine-y, peppery kick to the buttery citrus sauce. I can see this becoming a new favorite, especially if I can find a way to use something other than butter or less butter.

So, yes, I'm considering this a triumph of the will. The little victories count, right?

1 comment:

pbarfield said...

OMG. Chicken piccata is EASILY one of my favorite foods EVER. I love Giada's recipe, but I make two slight alterations that help the chicken cook faster and get a great crispiness: 1) I pound the chicken thin (or buy thin-cut cutlet thingies - much easier), and 2) I do the flour, dip it in an egg wash, then dip it in some plain bread crumbs. Mmmm. Now I want piccata.