Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chicken Piccata with Mushrooms

I have had this dish at least one bagillion times in my life.  I just never really knew that it had a name.  It has been a constant at work lunches, banquets, etc.  It was only recently while I was staying in a Little Italy part of the city for a convention that I learned what the name was.  We wandered into a quaint little Italian market with a restaurant attached, and I looked at the menu.  I was sold at "caper, lemon, butter sauce."  Yes please.

Well, I had to get through the salad and spaghetti first (this place was a legit Italian eatery, let me tell you).  And then came a beautifully golden, thinly-sliced chicken breast topped with capers and mushrooms.  In my mind I said "Eureka!" which is the perfectly normal thing to say in situaitons such as this.  I just spared my dinner guest the inevitable awkwardness of my running through the streets naked yelling it, as legend says it originally was.

I have removed the breading from the version I had, thinking that a pan-seared chicken breast has a better consistency to it, and a little less weight to it.  Cooking the capers in the oil first distributes their distinctive taste throughout the entire dish, giving it a little more briny kick.

Chicken Piccata with Mushrooms
  • 4 thinly-sliced chicken breasts (or 2 breasts, butterfly-cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • about 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish
  • salt and pepper
Place the chicken breasts between sheets of aluminum foil and pound with a mallet until evenly thin throughout.  Salt and pepper both sides generously.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the capers and stir for about 2 minutes.  You don't want them mushy--just a little seared.  Remove the capers, retaining as much of the oil as you can.

To the same pan, add the butter.  When melted, add the chicken breasts (you can do 2 at a time: don't crowd the pan).  Sear until golden brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Remove, and keep close.  Retain as much butter and oil in the pan as possible.

To the drippings and butter in the pan, add the garlic and saute for about a minute.  Then add the lemon juice, zest, and chicken broth.  Let simmer for a few minutes, until reduced by about a third.  Add back the capers, as well as the mushrooms and parsley.  Stir until the mushrooms are slightly soft.  Place the chicken breasts back in the pan, and spoon over the sauce for a minute or two, until heated through. 

Serve on top of your favorite pasta with Parmesan cheese. 

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