Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chicken Piccata

Again, it's been forever. And I'm posting a recipe that is more cooking than baking, but still delicious.

Some background: One of my favorite restaurants near my parent's house is an Italian restaurant called "Franks II." I don't think there is a "Franks I" or a "Franks" in case you're wondering. It's just "Franks II." The inside is kind of weird and 80s. The booths are all peach and plastic, and there are a few tables and chairs. The placemats are pink paper with "Franks II" written across the middle, with ads framing the sides. When we were little, my sisters and I would always ask my mom to look in her purse for pens or pencils so we could draw or play tic-tac-to or hangman on the backs of the menus. We could never remember to bring our own writing implements, but my mom usually managed to come through for us.

The kitchen of this place was kind of open, it wasn't really a separate room- you can see where the owner makes the food and the pizza ovens and all that stuff. The dessert case usually had a few cannolis and some lonely pieces of cheesecake in it.

Don't get me wrong, the place sounds like a bit of a dive, but the place has 4 stars on urban spoon. It is delicious. And rather inexpensive. Way better than Olive Garden and any other chain Italian restaurant.

One of our favorite dishes to get there is Chicken Piccata, which is some lightly fried thinly sliced chicken breast with a lemon white wine sauce. It is tangy and light and delicious. Franks II usually serves it with a side of spaghetti and marinara and a side salad. Our family always asks to put the chicken on top of the spaghetti (no marinara) and put extra Piccata sauce on top. DELICIOUS.

Since I now live so far from home, I've been looking for a way to replicate the recipe so I can still have it up here. I have found and fixed one.


Ingredients and Tools:

2-4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves (You can usually get the thinly sliced breasts at the grocery store so you don't have to butterfly them [a technique I haven't mastered yet. I am too fond of my thumbs]) If you get thicker sliced pieces, butterfly them yourselves. Look up a how-to somewhere.
2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese (I use the inexpensive stuff in the can)
1/3 cup flour
Salt and pepper (to taste)
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup White Wine (Any non-winey people can use chicken stock, but trust me, the wine gives it an extra tang)
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice (that equates to the juice of about 1 whole lemon. You can probably use the stuff in the plastic lemon, but I don't know what the conversion is)
1/4 cup Brined Capers (what are capers you ask? LOOK IT UP
As much pasta as you think you and your eating companions will eat. I like Barilla's PLUS Angel Hair. It's nice and thin, and has a nutty taste to it that compliments everything nicely. And it has a bunch of different grains that I can't pronounce properly in it, so it must be good for you.

Frying pan large enough for at least 2 pieces of chicken
Shallow bowl or plate for coating chicken
Measuring spoons and cups
Pot for pasta
Strainer for pasta
Wooden spoon
Flipping Spatula/pancake spatula

1. Take out and pre-measure all of your ingredients. Things go quickly after the chicken is fried.
2. Start the water boiling for pasta.
3. In your coating bowl mix: flour, Parmesan, salt and pepper
4. Rinse the chicken pieces in water, then dredge* them in the flour mixture. Let them sit there until the pan heats up.
5. Turn on the stove to medium-high and heat up your frying pan with the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. (The olive oil/butter mixture is the secret to making this delicious)
6. Once the butter and olive oil is heated (after the butter melts) put in 2 pieces of chicken. DO NOT CROWD the chicken. Make sure there is space between the pieces. They are not friends in this situation. They do not play well together.
7. Brown the chicken on both sides (it takes about 3 minutes a side). Remove from the pan and place on an oven safe plate. Do the same with your other pieces of chicken. Cover the chicken with foil. (If you're doing this for the first time, you might want to put it in the oven on warm so the chicken doesn't get cold, but you should be okay). DO NOT DRAIN THE PAN YET.
8. Check on the pasta water. If it's ready, start your pasta.
9. Now for the delicious sauce: Pour the wine, capers and lemon juice into the pan (the pan that still contains the olive oil, butter, and fried bits of the chicken) and stir it, scraping up all the bits. I usually cover the pan for a minute or two, so the ingredients mingle. You want the sauce to reduce a bit so it is even more delicious.
10. Uncover the pan. Whisk/mix in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Smell. Die of happiness.
11. Hopefully your pasta is done by now. Strain it. Plate the pasta for each person. Put the chicken on top of the pasta. Pour some sauce on the chicken. Make sure they get some capers.

*A note on dredging. I just discovered this: use one hand (non-dominate) as your water hand, and one hand as your dredging hand. As in- rise the chicken with your right hand, shake off some of the extra water, and put it in the bowl, then use your left hand to coat it. That way you won't have a messy hands the whole time.

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