Chicken piccata, as it is commonly served in most Italian restaurants, is actually an American version of the original Italian dish, which is made with veal. The word “piccata” actually refers to the sauce, which is traditionally made with lemon, white wine, and capers. While we know the dish commonly served with chicken and pasta, the original veal piccata is usually served as a second course without the pasta and just the sauce.
A lot of restaurants butterfly the chicken and serve it sliced thinner than you’ll see in this video, but the chicken breasts I used weren’t that thick, so I just served them whole. If you feel that your chicken breasts are too thick, run a knife through the middle lengthwise, leaving a couple of inches still uncut so that when you separate the meat, you’ll unfold it into a butterfly-like shape.
First, we’re going to start out with the breading mixture. I combined one cup of all-purpose flour with 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, and equal amounts of lemon pepper and salt. I also decided at the last minute to add about a 1/2 tsp of dried basil. Whisk the dry mixture together with a fork.
In a separate bowl, whisk together about 2-3 eggs with 2 Tb of olive oil. In the video, you can see that I added three eggs. This turned out to be too much, so to avoid waste I’d recommend starting with two eggs.
Submerge your chicken in the egg mixture, making sure it’s thoroughly coated before dipping into your flour. Pat the chicken breast on both sides, making sure you coat every little crevice. Make sure you set aside the excess flour mixture for later.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Lay your breaded chicken in the pan, browning on both sides. The remainder of the cooking process will happen in the oven, so a good 3-4 minutes on each side should do the trick. Once your chicken breasts are browned, place them in a large glass baking pan and top with thin slices of lemon and about 2 Tb of capers. Bake at 375 (F) for about 20-30 minutes. Once it’s done, let it cool while you move on to the next steps.
Once your chicken is in the oven, you can start on the sauce. Use the drippings from your frying pan. Add maybe another tablespoon each of butter and oil and cook over a medium-low heat. Next, add a tsp of roasted garlic. Regular mined garlic is fine too. Pour about a cup of white wine into the pan while whisking. Go for a dry white wine that is less sweet. I used a Pino Grigio. Next, you’ll add a Tb of lemon juice and about 2-3 Tb of capers. (I used a small jar in this recipe, so half went into the chicken, and the other half went into the sauce.) Let this simmer for a few minutes on a medium-low heat while you make your way to your next task: the thickening agent.
Take the flour mixture you used for breading the chicken and add a couple of tablespoons to a small dish. Whisk together with an equal amount of olive oil to create a thickening paste for your sauce. Slowly whisk this into your simmering pan and lower the heat. You’ll notice an almost instant change to your sauce’s consisitency. Take the pan off the burner and set aside to cool.
Next, cook your pasta according to the directions on the package. In this video, I used a standard 16oz package of angel hair pasta. You can use whatever pasta you like, I personally prefer angel hair (capellini) for this recipe. I usually add a good amount of salt to my pasta water (2+ tsp) and cook for the minimum amount of time suggested. This is called al dente, which literally translates as “to the tooth,” an Italian term referring to pasta that is cooked but firm. Once you drain your pasta, run it under cold water to prevent the pasta from further cooking itself. Otherwise, you’re left with mushy, over-cooked noodles that stick together in clumps. Gross. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and toss it in a little bit of salt and olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.
Plate your pasta next to the baked chicken breast and pour the sauce over both. I served this alongside a simple tossed salad with my homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Buon Appetito!
- 1 C all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 4 large chicken breasts, split open
- 2 Tb lemon juice
- 1 C dry white wine (Pino Grigio)
- 2 Tb olive oil (+1-2 Tb additional for sauce)
- 1/4 C capers (split)
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 16 oz dry pasta (capellini or angel hair)
- 4 quarts water, for boiling