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Most of us think of Veal Piccata as one of the quintessential Italian dishes, but now Chicken Piccata has become very popular as a less expensive and possibly a healthier version of this famous dish. Piccata is an Italian word. It is sometimes spelled "picatta” and the culinary use of the Italian term means "to be pounded flat".
When you see the word piccata with a recipe you know that means the meat will be floured, seasoned, quickly sauteed and served with a special sauce made with the pan drippings, wine, lemon juice, capers, chopped parsley and in this case mushrooms. This recipe is a version created by the Seaport Grille, and Owner Sheree DeLorenzo makes it in a platter-sized serving but you can also making a one or two sized version of your own.
The technique for typical piccata is to use a chicken breasts “scaloppini,” (also scallopini) which means cutlets that have been pounded to a thin shape. The pounding makes the meat a little tenderer and easier to cook, since you know when it has browned it is done. In this recipe you can forgo that step if you like by using chiceken tenders, which makes the preparation a little shorter but the dish is tasty. If you want to do it the typical way, depending on how thin the cutlets are to start with, you can ask your butcher to flatten them for you, or you can do it yourself at home.
Another distinction of this dish is the use of capers, which is optional. Capers are the unopened flower bud of a wild shrub that thrives in Mediterranean climates, from Spain and France to North Africa. After grading, capers are immediately brined in vinegar, or dry-packed in salt. The taste is fresh, salty, pungent, and slightly flowery-lemony.
4 to 5 pieces of chicken breasts
Flour for dredging chicken
1 cup diced onions
2 ½ cups button mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup imported capers
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio)
1 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
3 cups linguine, cooked al dente
1. Heat oil in large sauté pan.
2. Dredge chicken breast pieces in flour and brown in saute pan.
3. Add mushrooms to pan and cook while stirring over heat with chicken until they “sweat out” their water.
4. Add onions and also cook while stirring over heat with chicken and mushrooms until they “sweat out” their water.
5. Add wine and reduce (alcohol may flame in pan as it evaporates).
6. Add garlic and capers, stirring into mixture.
7. Allow pan to reduce one to two minutes, add lemon juice, and then cream and reduce another three minutes.
8. Near end of reduction, add butter to thicken the sauce.
9. Add cooked pasta to mixture and plate into pasta bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or lemon wedge if desired.
Recipe courtesy of Sheree Delorenzo, the Seaport Grille, 2011.
Sheree DeLorenzo is the General Manager and Co-owner of the Seaport Grille. She has over 20 years' experience as Food & Beverage Manager and General Manager of the Seaport.