Impromptu Dinner and an Empty Fridge, Chicken Piccata Style – OR – Say “Hell No” to Capers.

The other night, as I’m struggling to finish up my duties at work, I feel my desk vibrate violently and I reach over to pick up my phone.  Splashed across the screen is:

What’s for dinner?

I honestly intend on replying to texts immediately as I receive them, but really, I never do.  This text suffers the same fate as many before it and goes unanswered for the time being.  Sucked into work and desperately trying to finish up, I chug ahead and feel my desk vibrate again about 10 minutes later from the same number as before:

I don’t know what your plans r but I ain’t doin jack tonight

Wednesdays nights are generally reserved for going home, picking up my cat Connor and nuzzling his sometimes usually kitty litter-smelling face forcing myself to go run, and then eating whatever is leftover from my typical previous weekend binge-cooking session while watching Netflix with Brandon.  Without fail, in that order.

Sensing my texting-friend’s subtle hints and realizing how sad my weeknight rituals have become, I called a disappointed Connor to let him know I was breaking our nightly cuddling plans and invited the texter, a lovely lady named Jamie Claire, over for a rare mid-week dinner.

When I get home I realize my fridge is uncharacteristically bare.  BUT!  as Cher Horowitz would say (if she knew the first thing about cooking), if you just get in the kitchen, rearrange some things, then even with a few measly ingredients you can easily pull off a decent meal.

Cher Horowitz is a terrible cook.

I wonder if Kerry will ever invite ME over for some Chicken Piccata...

How right you are, Cher.  For this particular meal I ended up whipping together a fairly basic ensemble of eats: corn on the cob, mashed garlic cauliflower with buttermilk and the star of this post: chicken piccata over brown rice.

The great thing about chicken piccata is that it looks and tastes fancy schmancy, but it’s stupidly easy to make, and almost impossible to ruin.  I dare you to try and ruin this dish, because it can’t be done!

CHICKEN PICCATA


Difficulty: Easy

Time: 45 minutes, start to finish

Serves: Four.  But realistically, two.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breast halves, butterflied and cut in half length-wise
  • 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of fresh or squeeze bottle lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of low-sodium chicken broth (or 1 cup if you want to yield more sauce)
  • Flour for dredging
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Parsley (preferably fresh) and lemon slices for garnish
  • Capers (optional)

Directions

  1. In a frying pan over medium heat, combine three tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of butter and wait until the butter melts.
  2. While your butter and oil are heating up, salt and pepper your now butterflied and halved and then dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and toss them into the now hot oil to fry in two batches.  Make sure you don’t crowd the chicken, otherwise they won’t brown properly.
  3. Once the chicken has browned on one side (about 4-7 minutes), flip over and allow to brown.  Remove first batch to a hot plate and keep them warm.
  4. Add two more tablespoons each of oil and butter and cook remaining pieces of chicken.
  5. Once the chicken has been all cooked and removed to the warming plate, add the lemon juice and chicken broth to the oil/butter leftover and whisk well.  Once it starts to boil, lower the temperature to medium low and  add the chicken back into the sauce pan.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced by 1/4 to 1/3 the original amount.
  6. Remove the chicken to a warm plate and add the last tablespoon of butter to the sauce and whisk vigorously for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Serve immediately by placing chicken over rice, quinoa or noodles, spooning the sauce over the chicken and adding the parsley and lemon wedge garnish.

And that’s it!

Side note: Capers are traditionally added to this dish, but my tastes have yet to evolve enough to appreciate their pungency, so I’ve decided to leave them out.

———————————————————————————————

And just like that, the impromptu dinner was a success, even with minimal ingredients to work with.  If you’re entertaining, or even just cooking for yourself, it’s important to know how to Macgyver a meal with whatever is in your cabinets and make it work to your advantage.

DID YOU KNOW: Chicken piccata isn’t even Italian by origin.  Seriously!  It is an Italian-inspired dish that originated in the good ol’ US of A and was given an Italian name to make it sound super pretentious.  Some say the term piccata stems from the word piquance, which to describe the flavor of the dish as zesty or pungent, which draws us back to the capers.  To be honest, I really wouldn’t care if it originated in the sewers, because though this dish may deceitfully un-Italian, it is 100% crazy good.

If you try this recipe, or if you have your own special way of preparing this dish, please be sure to let me know in the comments!

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