Inspiration: Sometimes, B and I just have the sort of night when we want a really healthy meal. We were feeling that way on Saturday, so I ditched my previous dinner plans and came up with this really light chicken piccata instead. Served with some baby portabella mushrooms sauteed with garlic and some sugar snap peas steamed with extra virgin olive oil, this made for a great and healthy meal.
What we Loved: The sauce for this chicken had an incredible flavor. It had a sour, tangy punch from the lemon juice and the capers, and it had a savory, rich flavor from the white wine and just a dab of butter. Sauteeing the chicken breasts really simply in olive oil and coating them in the sauce made for a really moist chicken breast. Another great thing about this meal is that it is incredibly simple and only takes a few minutes from start to finish.
Helpful Hints: Chicken piccata is one of those dishes that can either be really, really unhealthy for you or really healthy for you, depending on how you make it. Nearly every chicken piccata recipe that I’ve run across calls for a lot of butter – anywhere from 3 tablespoons to nearly a stick. As in many, many other recipes that call for butter, I’ve found that it can almost always be eliminated or greatly reduced to make a healthier meal. You sacrifice that rich, buttery flavor, sure, but I really don’t think it’s even necessary in most cases. In my cooking, I’d say that I use butter maybe one time every couple of months (if that), and I never miss it. The absence of butter really allows you to taste so many other great flavorings – herbs, oils, garlic, seasonings, etc. – and after cooking this way for a long time, I really prefer these flavors to that of butter. That being said, chicken piccata is one of those things that I’ve made several times, and I find that it does need just a little butter to round out the sauce. After making an already flavorful sauce using the pan scrapings from having cooked the chicken, lemon juice, white wine, and capers, I swirled in just a tablespoon of butter, and it was the perfect amount.
Source: Very loosely adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
I used Giada’s recipe as inspiration, but my meal ended up quite differently. Here’s the recipe as I made it.
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, butterflied and cut in half
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/8 cup whole wheat flour
Extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
1/8 cup brined capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon butter
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, and shake off the excess.
2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately five minutes per side.
3. Plate the chicken. In the pan, add the lemon juice, the wine, and the capers. Use a spatula to scrape the brown bits from the pan into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, and swirl in 1 tablespoon of butter.
4. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.
I used to make Giada’s recipe, but truthfully, I found it to be heavy and just plain ugly! I finally found another recipe I like using A LOT less butter and oil and use chicken stock instead of wine. Maybe next time I’ll add a little white wine in there for some more flavor…
Thanks for your tips about lighter chicken piccata. My family is always looking for ways to make recipes healthier and this looks beautiful.