Dish of the Week: Chicken Piccata

Add this briny, lemony dish to your culinary repertoire.
Add this briny, lemony dish to your culinary repertoire. Photo by Noonch
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re sharing an Italian take on chicken, with a deeper look into chicken piccata.

The feminine form of the Italian word piccato, meaning “larded,” and a past participle of piccare, or “to prick” — the term piccata is also used to describe an Italian dish made with meat, poultry or fish that is butterflied, sautéed in butter and/or olive oil and served in a lemon-butter sauce. The protein can be breaded, dredged in flour, or simply seasoned with salt and pepper before being cooked to a golden brown.

Other common ingredients include garlic, shallots, spices, fresh herbs like parsley, dry white wine, chicken stock, and the star of the dish: bright, briny capers. The lemony sauce gets reduced to thicken and an extra pat of butter can be added for a silky finish.

In Italy, the piccata dish (often veal) is traditionally served as a secondo, a meat or fish course that is served after the primo, a first course featuring a starch like pasta or risotto. In the the U.S., however, the dish is commonly served with the starch — think pasta, rice, potatoes or polenta.

This recipe, from Ina Garten, makes the chicken extra crisp by incorporating a bread-crumb coating. Dry white wine adds depth and another acidic punch to the lemon butter sauce.

Chicken Piccata

serves 2
2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the sauté pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate.

Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano