Friday, February 22, 2008

Chicken Piccata with Lemon, Capers and Artichoke Hearts...An Early Taste of Spring

It's still winter, but spring must be near! My taste buds are telling me it is so! I got a hankering for something a bit more spring like, so I made Chicken Piccata with Lemon, Capers and Artichoke Hearts.

The recipe served this over rice and lima beans, but I paired the chicken with some lightly sauteed zucchini and grape tomatoes. It's easy, elegant and it was delicious

The ingredients are here:

The recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts but these were Dolly Parton sized, so I just used two. The first step is to flatten them. I have an old, old, old meat mallet that is horrible, so I just used my (yes was a gift from a friend) silicone rolling pin. If you don't have a meat mallet or a rolling pin, just smash the chicken with a heavy pan. Just about anything heavy will work. Putting the chicken in a zip lock bag makes for easy clean up and the bag comes in handy later.

Once the chicken is 1/4 inch thick, it looked like this:

The recipe called for the chicken to be salted and peppered and then coated in the seasoned flour, but I just dumped the salt and pepper right in there with the flour.

There is also lemon zest in this recipe; the zest of lemon holds the essential oils and is very fragrant and wonderful. Zest is just the finely grated rind. I use a micro plane to zest, but I have zesting tools too. You can use a very fine cheese grater or a sharp paring knife. When you zest you only want to get the top colored layer, not into the white pith, which is bitter. You can buy dried zest, but it's not the same as fresh.

All of the spices and the flour and lemon zest are added into the plastic bag with the chicken and tossed together to coat the chicken well. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the floured chicken (just shake it off a bit first). Saute it for a few minutes on each side until it is golden brown and cooked through.

Once the chicken is browned on each side, add the lemon juice, wine and stock.

That will simmer until the sauce thickens from the flour that has coated the chicken. While that is happening, slice up some zucchini and toss it in a skillet with 2 tsp olive oil, a pinch of garlic powder and salt/pepper. I also added a hint of the lemon zest. Normally fresh garlic is preferred but I was doing a super quick saute and it wasn't really enough time to sweeten the fresh garlic.

Now, both skillets are ready for the final ingredients. The chicken gets quartered artichoke hearts (I buy them quarted, so I don't have to cut them) and the capers. The zucchini gets some grape tomatoes that I halved.

Then, just plate it and serve.

Spring is coming! Join me as I dine!



Taina said...

Oh, cool! I like the bag-idea. Also I've never used the grated lemon, that was a nice one.

Are your artichokes fresh, or "sott'olio"= in olive oil - or sort of pickled? If I cannot have them fresh, then I prefer in oil?

You're pics are coming both lovely and wonderfully instructive!

Paula Dines said...

Thank you, taina!

The artichokes I used were canned in water, but you could certainly use marinated/pickled in oil. It will change the flavor a bit, though.

If you are using pickled, I might cut back on the amount of lemon juice used because you will have the acidity of the vinegar from the marinade.