Chicken Piccata is one of those meals that people typically only eat when they go out to a restaurant. It might be because homemade lemon butter sauce seems like a daunting task - or maybe it’s because “piccata” sounds fancier than it really is (it means to serve something with lemon, butter, and spices). Either way, this recipe will make it easy for even a novice cook to create the perfect chicken piccata; and even more importantly, it will demonstrate the basics of making a pan sauce.
- 3-4 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, butterflied and pounded thin
- 8 lemons, 6 juiced and 2 sliced
- 2 c flour
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
- 2 c white wine
- ¼ lb + 2 tbsp butter
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium red onion, sliced thin (any onion will work)
- 2 tbsp capers
First, preheat your Stargazer cast iron skillet over low heat for 5 minutes. After the skillet is sufficiently preheated, add three tablespoons of oil combined with two tablespoons of butter - then, turn the heat up to medium. Adding oil and butter together allow you to enjoy the flavor of butter with the high smoke point of oil.
Next, begin coating your chicken filets in flour (the technical term for this is “dredging”). You will need to pour the flour out onto a baking sheet, a large bowl, or anything with high sides and a large enough area to fit the chicken pieces. Season the flour with a liberal amount of salt and pepper and mix it up. Take the chicken pieces, one at a time, and dredge them in the flour. After each piece is coated, knock off the excess flour and set the chicken aside (if you can, try not to stack them - they might stick together). The time of pan searing is upon us.
Place your floured chickens in the skillet. The number of pieces you can fit will depend on how wide they are. If you can’t fit them all at once, cooking in batches is perfectly fine. You just might need to add a bit more oil in-between batches. The chicken should take around 3 minutes per side and you are looking for a golden-brown color.
Sauce time! This is where you set yourself apart from the rest of the amatuer piccata-makers out there. Your skillet should have little brown bits left behind from the chicken; this is a good thing - do not wipe it out. Add a bit more oil and then add in ¾ of the sliced lemons. Stir them around a bit and allow them to become fragrant - around a minute or two. Then, add in your garlic and onion. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft - 4 to 5 minutes. Next, add in your lemon juice, white wine, and thyme sprigs (throw the whole sprig in there - you’re going to remove it later). This is the part that really builds the flavor of your sauce. You will need to reduce the total liquid in the skillet by around 75% - it should have the consistency of thin syrup. This should take around 10 minutes or so.
Once the sauce is reduced, turn off the heat, remove the thyme sprig (or leave it in - it won’t hurt anything and gives sort of a rustic look) and let it rest for a minute or two. The flavor is all there, but the sauce is so thick that there won’t be enough to coat the chicken. This is where the butter comes in. Put ¼ lb butter into the skillet and gently stir it until it blends completely into the sauce. You should be seeing a dark, rich color with a silky texture. Now add in ¾ of parsley and all of the capers - mix them up to allow their distinct flavors to blend with the sauce.
That’s it - all the hard work is over! Place the cooked chickens back into the skillet and mix them up with the sauce. Use the remaining lemon wheels and parsley for garnishes. Or, if you don’t like garnishes, you can throw them at your guests in a playful and confusing manner.