Filed under: Gourmet, Unbound
Most of the recipes I’ve made for the Gourmet, Unbound project have been weekend projects that take some time. Spending the weekend in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do, and this project has been a perfect fit for that. Unfortunately, September and October are among my busiest months at work and I’m lucky if I’m even home on the weekends (case in point: between Labor Day and Halloween this year, I’ll have been home a grand total of two weekends and only one of those weekends away was for something other than work).
When looking for an October recipe, I knew it would have to be something I could make quickly. This tends to be how I cook most of the time – when I walk in the door at 6:30, I kiss my husband, hug my dog, start water boiling or heat the oven, pour myself a glass of wine, change out of my work clothes, and then get busy on dinner. On a good day, we’re eating dinner by 7:00 or very shortly thereafter. Could my husband make dinner since he’s often home before I am? Sure. And occasionally he does – usually when I am most exhausted and he’s somehow sensed that walking in the door to dinner nearly ready will be the best gift possible – but the reality is that little bit of time in the kitchen each evening helps to keep me sane.
The recipe I chose, Chicken Piccata with Capers, is a great choice when you only have a few minutes to make dinner. The day I made this, I’d actually been able to work from home, but it was a very busy day and by the time I quit for the day, we needed to leave in 45 minutes. Luckily I’d taken the chicken out of the freezer in the morning, so it was ready to go.
This is a recipe I’ve made before, and I have tweaked it a bit each time I’ve made it. I’ve added the step of lightly flouring the chicken breasts to add a bit of crisp to the chicken and body to the sauce. I also dialed back the fat just a bit and just use the fat from cooking the chicken, rather than pouring off the original fat and melting new butter as the original recipe suggests. I also add garlic and increase the amount of capers, much to my husband’s chagrin (I could eat capers straight from the jar every day; he isn’t particularly fond of capers, though he’ll tolerate them from time to time). Paired with a green salad, this makes a great quick dinner from ingredients I nearly always have on hand.
Chicken Piccata with Capers
Adapted from Gourmet, October 1991
2 small to medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin or sliced in half lengthwise
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp capers (to taste)
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
small handful chopped parsley
additional lemon quarters for serving
After halving or pounding the chicken breasts, coat lightly in flour then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy skillet (a well-seasoned cast iron pan would be perfect!) over medium heat, adding the butter and olive oil while the pan heats. When the butter has stopped foaming, add the chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove the chicken breasts to a plate. Cover loosely with foil if desired. Briefly saute the garlic in the remaining fat, then add the wine and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil then stir in the capers. Spoon the sauce over the chicken; sprinkle with parsley and serve additional lemon slices on the side.
This was my grandma’s cast iron pan, and if family legend is to be believed, it was her grandma’s before that. Wherever it came from originally, it’s my absolute favorite pan. Nonstick has nothing on a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.
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