Chicken Piccata

May 26, 2010

My BFF Paul cruised into town from the bay area with a cookbook and recipe in hand. Love that!

I’ve seen other Cook’s Illustrated books, but not this particular cookbook. I love that there is a story that goes along with each recipe. It tells you how the final recipe came about. Here’s a small excerpt from the Chicken Piccata recipe that we made. 

“Most of the recipes we uncovered in our research called  for 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. All of our tasters agreed that these sauces weren’t lemony enough. We found that 1/4 cup delivered a nice lemon punch.”

Paul and I had a lot of fun creating our meal together. Back in college our meals consisted of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Taco Bell, Slurpees and Top Ramen… we’d add veggies to the Top Ramen if we were feeling gourmet.

Chicken Piccata Ingredients: 

2 Large Lemons
6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (We only used 4)
Salt and Ground Pepper to Taste
1/2 Cup Unbleached Flour
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (We used EVOO)
1 Small Shallot – Minced (We used a medium to large sized one)
1 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Small Capers (Rinsed)
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley Leaves

The first step is to adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position – then set a large plate/dish on the rack and heat the oven to 200 degrees.

The next step is to prep the lemon. Cut the first lemon in 1/2 (pole to pole) – trim the ends from one half and cut crosswise into slices.

Next you need to juice the remaining lemon half and the second lemon to obtain 1/4 cup of lemon juice. This is where a hand juicer/squeezer/reamer would have helped. Um… we used our hands, a spoon, serving spoon handle, fork and just about everything else on the kitchen counter.

Mental note: Still need a real strainer.

Step 3 – Prepping the chicken…

The recipe doesn’t call for pounding the chicken (This is not a euphemism) our breasts were thick (can’t stop laughing…) and we thought they would cook more evenly.

I thought for sure I had a mallet or meat tenderizer – not so much. We once again, improvised…

Add a second layer of parchment  and let the Pound… Pound… Rolling begin…

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper, then coat with flour and shake off excess.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lay 2 chicken breasts in the skillet. Sauté until browned on both sides. Add the two breasts to the heated plate/dish in the oven. Add more oil to the skillet if needed, and repeat the process with the remaining 2 breasts. Note: If you have a gigantic pan/skillet, you can cook all 4 at once. They still need to go into the oven while you make the sauce. (To keep them cozy)

Add the minced shallot to the now-empty skillet and return the skillet to medium heat. Sauté until fragrant – a minute or two. Add the broth and lemon slices, increase the heat to high, and scrape the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Simmer until the sauce reduces.

Add the reserved lemon juice and capers and simmer until the sauce reduces again. 

Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter until it melts and thickens the sauce.  Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

We sautéed baby spinach, garlic, sea salt and evoo as a bed for the chicken. 

I can’t even explain how fabulous the kitchen smelled. This dish was awesome! I will definitely be making it again. I’ve also decided that I now need an assistance – hah!



  1. i love, love, love your food posts!! The pictures are great and I’m loving the recipes too. Keep it up!

    • Thanks Emily!

  2. Sounds delish…..Now I know where the sounds of laughter were coming from last night. Did you know your sounds could travel 25 miles?? 😉

    • Hah! Hah! – it really was like old times. Add Dan into the mix and it was non-stop laughter… at some point Paul’s socks ended up in the pool, I’ll tell you the story tomorrow

  3. Thank goodness I had breakfast this morning or I might start licking the screen! Chicken Picatta is one of my faves to make and eat. I was always intimidated to make it, but once I saw a recipe I saw how easy it was. I don’t know about you, but I never want the sauce to end…it’s lick the plate sinfully delicious! I love the spinach idea, because that sauce can make anything taste good. It’s also very good with white fish. It would be a great dish to help you fight your fear of cooking fish. 🙂

    • I did love the added spinach – it was between that and asparagus – glad we opted to go the Popeye route. Usually you see chicken piccata teamed with pasta or potatoes – way too heavy – this was perfect. Thanks for the fish idea too.

  4. You two back laughing and being totally creative again……….just like old times…….how wonderful.

    Keep this one in mind if you ever need to fix something when I come to dinner……one of my favorites.

    Love and hugs,

    • Yes, just like old times. I will definitely keep this in mind for our next dinner together – not as involved as the braised short ribs 😉

  5. I, too, love chicken piccata. I usually make double the sauce since it’s so good!

    • I think that’s pretty much what we did by making the same amount of sauce that should have been for 6 breasts. Super yummy! I’m seriously excited about going home for lunch today to eat some of the leftovers.

  6. OMG! Sounds sooo good. I LOVE capers. I think I will have to make this in the future. 🙂

    • I apparently love capers too! Let me know how it turns out when you do make it!

  7. This was great! So glad to be a part of it. Note to readers: DELICIOUS.
    One of my favorite recipes. Enjoyed being the kitchen helper, assistant director, and hand model.

    Thanks for the fun time and tasty dinner!

  8. Can you and Paul come over and cook for me? Please?


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