Chicken Piccata








You say picky…I say Piccata

My kids tell me I’m “picky” pretty often, especially when it comes to their daily chores. There are a few extra ones on their checklists this summer, because as they get older, my husband and I want them to learn that real life involves some daily work and responsibilities. While I know that a clean house doesn’t mean as much to them as it does to me, I still think they’ll learn that life goes more smoothly when things are in their place, where we can find them. Like today, when we spent the better part of a morning looking for my son’s house key…ugh. I guess my pickiness about where he puts the key made it’s own point today.

In the meantime, I’m planning a nice dinner for tonight. I need something that’s a step above the usual to help me calm down after the mad house-key search. Nothing too difficult…just some thin slices of tender chicken with a light lemon and butter sauce. I like to serve it with a small side of pasta, usually some thin spaghetti that can soak up the extra sauce from the chicken.

Chicken Piccata

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
2 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon chicken soup base
1 cup hot water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
fresh, chopped parsley (optional)

Begin by trimming any visible fat from edges of chicken cutlets. Place one piece of plastic wrap under and another piece over the chicken pieces and pound each one flat with a meat tenderizing mallet. Flip the wrapped chicken over and pound on the other side, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Be careful not to pound so hard that the meat tears.

In order to save time, you might be tempted to skip this step of pounding the chicken into thin cutlets. This is actually an important part of the recipe — it makes the chicken so tender that you can cut it with the side of your fork when done. It also soaks up the sauce better this way.

Pat each cutlet with paper towel to dry. (This will help it brown better in the pan.) Season both sides of each piece of chicken with salt and pepper. Put the flour on a plate and lightly coat each side of the chicken in it.

In a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter and the Tablespoon of olive oil together over medium heat, being careful to not brown the butter. Add chicken to the pan and cook on both sides for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden, turning only once so the chicken doesn’t tear. Remove chicken from the pan onto a platter.

When I checked the package of this Amish chicken that I bought at the market, it had all of the important guidelines I look for on the label: “Raised with all vegetable feeds; no animal by-products or hormones in our food; raised without antibiotics.”

In a liquid measuring cup, dissolve the chicken base in the hot water and stir well. Add this to the hot pan along with the lemon juice. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium high heat until all of the browned bits on bottom of the pan are dissolved. Then, add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter, stirring until melted. Salt to taste, if needed.

To squeeze fresh lemons for juice, it helps to put one lemon at a time into the microwave for 8 seconds on high. Then, take it out and roll it several times with the palm of your hand on the cutting board before slicing it in half. This will help you get more of the juice out of each. My family likes lemon, but if this sauce tastes a bit too lemony for you, the amount of juice can be cut back to 1/4 cup.

Return chicken cutlets to skillet. Turn them over and cover with sauce. Arrange on serving platter. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

So the chores are done for today, dinner is made, and hopefully, my son has learned that being so particular about how he puts things away is not such a bad thing. Maybe next time they’re where they’re supposed to be he’ll say, “Thanks for teaching me to be responsible, Mom.” Oh, sure. Better just get used to being called picky.

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