I’ve been a little bit blue lately. Is it just me? I think it might be the weather. Between the cold, ice, and gloom, I’m ready for a pick-me-up.
To remind me of warmer, sunnier climbs, I like to look at pictures of my trip to Tuscany. I happened upon this:
Isn’t that picture just full of warmth? I stayed at this wonderful Tuscan farm called Spannocchia. Idyllic, I tell you. I stopped to take a picture of one of many lemon trees because, well, we don’t really have them where I live. Plus, there’s something about a lemon tree. You know? They’re so bright and fragrant.
Anyway, back to the gloom. Looking at this picture, I began to crave something rich and lemon-y and heart-warming to help get me out of this February funk I’m in. And when one craves something rich and lemon-y and heart-warming, one makes Piccata.
I’m warning you – this recipe of mine is a little imprecise. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I tend to shoot for “abouts” when I make this. As in, I’ll add “about a cup” of this or “about a half cup” of that. Sometimes it’s more lemon-y, other times it has more of a rich, wine-y flavor. Trust me – it’s all good.
Though, I guess I should offer my late grandmother an apology. Her “dash of this, pinch of that” method used to infuriate me. Why wouldn’t it? I was trying to learn at her feet. And now, well….. my bad.
I can’t grow a lemon tree right now, but I can fill a countertop with lemons from someone else’s tree. Y’all know the drill. Slice in half, use your reamer, squeeze the lemons into a sieve to catch the seeds and pulp.
This time, I had enough lemons for about a cup of juice, which made for a really robust lemon flavor. You may not have that many lemons on hand. Forgive yourself.
Don’t hate me…. but the breading is also not quite as precise as you’d like. This time, I had gluten-free all-purpose flour and oat flour. So I went with that. You need between 1-2 cups, depending on how much chicken you’re making. Put it into a gallon-sized storage bag. Add some salt and pepper to the bag.
Now, we must deal with our chicken.
If you have a sharp chef’s knife and confidence in your knife skills, then you can cut your chicken breasts in half by yourself. CAREFULLY. If you have neither a good knife nor confidence in it, fear not – you have options. First, you can buy thin-cut chicken breasts. They’re a little spend-y, but it might be worth it for you. Second, and much better in my opinion, you can ask your butcher to cut them for you. Really, you should get to know the people handling your meat.
So whether you DIY-ed that chicken or left it to the professionals, this is where you should be. These were 6 chicken breasts. I’m cooking for 5 adults, usually, and this leave enough for seconds or leftovers.
Put your chicken in the back with your flour. Shake. This would be a good job for eager little helpers, if you have them. My eager little helpers both have four legs and, therefore, are not allowed to play with the chicken. Those sweet dum-dums wouldn’t be able to do it right. Lack of thumbs and all.
Plus, they’d eat it.
Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a griddle on your stove. If you don’t have a griddle, you can use a large non-stick skillet.
When the oil is hot, grab a chicken breast and shake the excess flour off. You just want a dusting, not a heavy coating.
Lay your chicken gently onto the hot, oiled griddle. Don’t crowd them. If you’re using a griddle, you might only get 4-6 on there. That’s fine! Be patient!
Meanwhile, put a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the chicken for about three minutes, or until the bottom browns. Be careful, though – you don’t want it to burn. Flip!
When those are finished, place the chicken breast on your greased wire rack. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. You might need more oil in your pan. That’s fine.
Now, we need to talk about preference. My husband likes capers. I, on the other hand, love capers. This means that I tend to make a really caper-loaded Piccata. You, on the other hand, may not really care for them. I encourage you to try them and to include a few in your sauce. If you don’t, however, it will still be delicious. It won’t be Piccata, but it will still be delicious.
Drain and rinse your capers and then drain them again.
Once you’re finished with all of the chicken, put the baking rack in the pre-heated oven.
Get all your sauce stuff together. If you’re fancy, you’d call this a mise en place. This is a very important step – one that you should not ignore . Things are going to come together very quickly.
One cup of white wine (not sweet, mind you), that one cup of lemon juice we squeezed forever ago, two tablespoons of butter, and one tablespoon of corn starch.
This makes a gluten-free Piccata, thus the corn starch in lieu of flour. If you’re sensitive about cooking with wine, you can substitute chicken stock for it. Sometimes, I do half and half. Again, this recipe is really loosey-goosey like that.
Heat a medium-to-large-ish sauce or sauté pan over medium heat. Add your butter.
Pretty, right? Of course.
Once your butter is melted, add your cornstarch and whisk until it’s blended.
Once it’s combined and bubbling, add your capers, wine, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and reduce, stirring frequently.
Let it reduce and thicken.
If you’re using cornstarch, resist the temptation to add more when it doesn’t look like it’s thickening. It will. It requires, however, a bit of patience. Stick with it.
I really love to serve this with cooked brown rice, which I would begin cooking at the beginning of this whole process, since it takes so long. You may prefer mashed potatoes or pasta. I also quite like serving it with quinoa. You can’t go wrong. Just make sure you have something that will sop up that delicious sauce.
Top with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Trust me on this last step – you’ll be really glad you did.
Here’s the printable:
- 4-6 chicken breasts
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP corn starch
- ½-3/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups of gluten-free flours or flour mix
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or other desired side
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Butterfly chicken breasts. (Or buy them thin-sliced or butterflied by your butcher)
- Mix flour and pinch of salt and pepper in a gallon storage bag.
- Add chicken breasts and toss to coat.
- Heat olive oil on a griddle over medium heat
- Shake excess flour off of chicken breasts and place them on the griddle. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
- Place cooked chicken on a greased wire rack over a baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining chicken breasts. Place all cooked chicken breasts in the oven.
- In a medium-to-large saute or saucepan over medium heat, melt the 2 TBSP of butter.
- Once melted, add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth and fully incorporated.
- Add the capers, wine, and lemon juice. Simmer until reduced and thickened.
- Serve chicken breasts over brown rice, pasta, quinoa, potatoes, or any other starch you choose.
- Top with sauce, capers, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do in my house. Carter requests this at least once a week and now is the time to make it before we’re all complaining about muggy heat. Ahem.
Until next time, y’all!