Go to any traditional Italian restaurant anywhere in the world and there is one item that can usually be found on the menu…piccata. It is traditionally made with a thin slice of veal that has a light coating of flour that is sautéed, then sauced with a light lemon and caper butter sauce. Over time this dish has evolved and now you will also see it prepared with chicken. Either way, it is a wonderful dish. If eating in Italy, you would order pasta as a first course followed by piccata as a second course. I enjoy preparing chicken piccata that is placed on top of spaghetti that has been tossed in some of the lemony sauce.
One of the ingredients that gives this dish its special taste is capers. Often thought of as a berry, the caper is actually an unopened green flower bud from a bush that grows in certain areas of the Mediterranean. It is picked early in the morning before it has a chance to open. If not picked, the bud opens into a lovely flower.
Once the bud is picked, it is dried and then bottled with a briny vinegar. I like to use capers that are packed in white balsamic vinegar as I often use a little of the brine in certain recipes.
Chicken piccata is full of flavor but is also quick and easy to prepare. It is a perfect weeknight meal that can be on your table in about thirty minutes. If you feel like splurging for a special occasion, just substitute veal for the chicken breast in the recipe. This recipe serves two but is easily doubled or tripled.
Chicken Piccata With Spaghetti
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 smaller portions, pounded to 1/2 inch
- flour for dusting
- salt and pepper to season the chicken
- 2 Tbsp. butter plus 1 Tbsp. butter to finish sauce
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, flattened
- 1/2 c. white wine
- 2 c. chicken broth, either homemade or 1 can low salt, no fat
- 2 Tbsp. flour, I used Wondra* (an extra fine, quick dissolving flour for sauces)
- 1 lemon, sliced for garnish
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced (I used 2 Tbsp. of the lemon juice)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil for the pasta
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 oz. dry spaghetti, per person (depending on personal preference)
This recipe cooks so quickly that it is important to have all your ingredients prepped ahead of time and next to the stove.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until just al dente. Drain and place in a large bowl and toss well with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, the zest of the lemon, salt and pepper. (Keep warm if ready before dish is finished).
In the meantime, season the chicken well with salt and pepper (you could also season with a little garlic powder and onion powder for extra flavor). Dust with flour and shake off excess.
In a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. olive oil on medium high. Add the garlic and cook to flavor the oil until the garlic is soft then remove, chop and set aside. Add the chicken and cook quickly until golden brown and just cooked through, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes each side. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce to about half. Mix the flour into the chicken broth and then add to pan. Stir until combined, then add the reserved chopped garlic, capers and lemon juice. When thickened to sauce consistency, add the chicken and cook an additional minute or until heated through. Remove the chicken and set aside. Swirl in the additional 1 Tbsp. of butter to the sauce. Remove about 1/2 cup of the sauce to top the chicken when plating. Add pasta to the remaining sauce and toss.
Divide pasta between two plates, top with chicken. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley. Add the reserved sauce and serve.
You might want to serve this dish with grated cheese for the pasta at the table. All that is needed to complete the meal would be a green salad and perhaps a chunk of crusty bread. A dry white wine such as a Pinot Grigio would go perfectly. Enjoy!