Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite things to eat and make because it tastes great, it's super easy to make, and you can make it pretty quick. I call this MY Chicken Piccata because normally when you order it or see it in a cookbook, it's sauteed in a pan and served with a lemon, caper, and most important: BUTTER sauce. I like to first pound the chicken out and then dredge it in Panko. Panko is one of the greatest things to come from Japan - yes - Japan. It is a very small and crispy breadcrumb that is out of this world on chicken and pork. Since Panko has become very popular, stores of course raise the price. What a load of crap. It's breadcrumbs! How expensive can they be? Well, go to Metropolitan Market or another "specialty store" and you will see the Sunluck brand in a SMALL, green box for $3.99. I have a secret Asian market that sells Panko for $1.99 and the box is three times the size of the Sunluck brand. It's made by Kikkoman and I personally think it makes a crispier crust.
Now, back to Chicken Piccata. The Panko adds a great crust to the chicken and just makes the dish taste that much better. The only trick to this dish is to not over cook the chicken - Surprise! Surprise! Don't overcook chicken! Has anyone heard that before?!
This will serve two people.
MY CHICKEN PICCATA
2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup flour
3/4 Stick butter - chill out - just go for a run after dinner and you'll be fine.
2 - 3 Tablespoons capers
2 Tablespoons shallot
1 Cup white wine
2 - 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Handful of Arugula
Slices of tomatoes...Preferably from your garden but probably from a store this year.
Salt and Pepper
1) First, rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Get out some wax paper and put the chicken between two sheets and pound it with a meat mallet until it's about 1/2" thick. Be gentle or you will pulverize the chicken breast. If you don't have a meat mallet, use the un-opened (there is a story that will be told at a later date) bottle of wine and gently beat the crap out of the chicken.
2) Make sure you do your prep work: Dice the shallot and set aside. Juice the lemon and set aside. (WARNING: if you use the bottled lemon juice in the yellow bottle, the kitchen gods will be angered and will strike you down).
3) Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk in a little milk, set aside. Mix the flour and Panko in a dish or pie pan and set near the eggs. Make sure to liberally salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and then coat in the egg mixture and then into the Panko/flour blend. Move the meat around and press it down to get the Panko to stick. You want to make a crust. Once you have the Panko on the chicken, set it down on a plate and do the same with the other piece of chicken. I try and make a sort of assembly line with the egg and Panko so that I go right into a hot pan from the Panko instead of on the plate - I hate doing dishes.
4) Get a decent-sized non-stick saute pan out and add a little olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of butter. You want the pan on medium-high heat. Hot, but not smoking. Heat until the butter is bubbling and just beginning to brown and then add both breasts. Cook the breasts for 5 minutes a side. Set a timer and you will have perfect chicken. This also depends on how big and thick your chicken breasts are - you will have to adjust the cooking time to the size of the meat. The Panko should be a nice golden brown. Once the chicken is cooked, put it on a plate a put it in a 150 degree oven to keep warm while you finish the sauce.
5) Do not get rid of the oil and brown bits in the pan - they are needed for the sauce. Do not wipe the pan out. To the pan, add the shallot and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes or so. Once it has cooked down, add the wine and reduce until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the capers and lemon juice and continue to cook for a minute or so. Turn the heat down and add the butter last and swirl it around to melt it into the sauce.
6) Get out two plates and fan the Arugula out on the plate - use a fair amount, it's part of the meal and not meant to be a garnish. Place a chicken breast on top of the Arugula and spoon the sauce over it. Add tomatoes to the side and devour.
*This takes about 30 minutes, start to finish. I will add pictures when I get another damn memory card for the camera!!!