We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chicken Piccata (Traditional and Gluten-Free Versions)

by Michelle

   With the arrival of spring, I have immediately begun to crave anything sweet or savory made with lemon as a key ingredient. Just last week I made my favorite Shrimp Scampi - the best Shrimp Scampi recipe in the world. Trust me on this. My mother will second the motion, and not just because she loves me. She waxed rhaposodic over the scampi for days.
   Next up I'm tweaking my favorite Lemon Cake recipe to produce a gluten-free version as well. I will have both versions posted before Easter. I prefer using slices of Lemon Cake as the foundation for an outstanding berry shortcake. Just ask my husband. He doesn't particularly like sweets, and I have yet to see him wax rhaposodically - about anything - but he will without provocation endorse the merits of Lemon Shortcake. Lemon Cake really is a taste sensation and a recipe that I will happily make through the spring and summer. I seldom make it before Easter or after Labor Day so I suppose for me it is the equivalent of the little white dress of the baking world.
Spaghetti squash is a tasty and healthy alternative to pasta.
   In the meantime, it is high time that I share this Lemon Piccata recipe with you. When my daughter asks what's for dinner and I say, "Chicken Piccata", I know she'll be happy and respond with an enthusiastic, "Yay!" It happens every time. A happy teenager in the house makes me a happy Mom. Maddie has even come around to eating Chicken Piccata over strands of baked spaghetti squash. In fact, everyone in the family prefers the baked spaghetti squash over pasta with this particular entrée. So, I get to eat my protein and have my vegetable at the same time, which is lovely for a mid week meal when I may not feel as energized to produce a vegetable side dish to serve with pasta.
   On a weekend when I'm not squeezed for time (lemon pun... couldn't help myself), I like to prepare one of the following salads as a first course: Rockin' French Salad with French Vinaigrette or Leafy Greens with Joan's Vinaigrette. As the grand finale, in my humble opinion, you can never go wrong serving my family's Lemon Ice Cream. It is the bomb-dot-com, as our friend Toni likes to say.

Chicken Piccata
(Traditional and Gluten-Free Versions)

   If you are avoiding white flour, you may choose to substitute with your favorite gluten-free flour mix. I have also successfully made the piccata by simply salting and peppering the chicken and pan frying. To thicken the sauce with the abscence of flour, in a small cup combine a heaping tablespoon cornstarch and about 1 tablespoon of water and stir until smooth. Add  the cornstarch mixture to the pan after you have added the lemon juice, white wine, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then return the chicken to the pan to heat through before serving.
   The sauce is doubled in my recipe and will generously sauce 4 large boneless chicken breasts. In my house, we cut the chicken breasts in half for a serving, so I can feed 6 to 8 people easily with this recipe. Unapologentically, I like a lot of sauce and I don't care for scraping the bottom of the pan to get every last drop before the next person at the table beats me to it. Making a double portion of sauce keeps the peace. Even though I usually wind up with a little sauce leftover, I often will double the sauce ingredients and use within a day or two or freeze for later use. The leftover sauce is delicious when used as a warm dressing for spring vegetables, especially when served as a bed for roasted fish.
   If preparing more than two boneless chicken breasts, you will likely need to pan fry the chicken in two batches. Simply keep the cooked breasts warm in a preheated oven set to a low temperature, about 250°F until all the chicken breasts are done.

Combine and set aside:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 to 3 juicy lemons)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1-1/4 cups chicken broth

Combine and set aside:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free multi-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano or Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp baking soda

Mince and set aside:
4 cloves garlic
Italian parsley, about 1/3 cup

Additional ingredients:
2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin with a mallet
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
ghee or olive oil for frying
4 Tbsps butter
3-1/2 Tbsps all-purpose flour or gluten-free multi-purpose flour (or cornstarch slurry as detailed in the introduction); I like to use the seasoned flour leftover from dredging the chicken
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsps brined capers, rinsed
2 Tbps butter, optional

Serve chicken with:
baked spaghetti squash, or traditional pasta, or gluten-free spaghetti, such as bionaturæ®

Garnish with:
minced Italian parsley
shredded Reggiano-Parmigiano

 I prefer to remove the parsley leaves from the stems, then mince.
1. Combine the lemon juice, white wine, and chicken broth together. Set aside until ready to use.
2. Combine the flour, Old Bay Seasoning, garlic powder, and dried oregano in a pie plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour, turn to coat. Shake off excess. If the chicken sits for a few minutes before frying, it may soak up the flour. Not a problem, simply dredge the chicken again and shake off the excess flour before transferring to the preheated skillet.
3. In a large skillet, non-stick or iron, heat the ghee or olive oil over medium-high heat, and fry the chicken breasts for about 10 minutes total, turning two or three times for even browing.
4. If preparing more than two boneless chicken breasts, you will likely need to pan fry the chicken in two batches. Simply keep the cooked breasts warm and uncovered in a preheated oven set to a low temperature, about 250° F.

You can prep the garlic ahead, if you wish, by making garlic oil.
5. If the pan is really hot, add the butter off-heat and melt. Quickly sautée the garlic for 30 seconds or so. Return the pan to the heat and set the temperature to medium. Stir in the flour to the butter to make a roux. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly, to cook out the taste of the flour. Slowly whisk in the lemon-wine-stock mixture and stir until thickened. Taste for seasoning. Don't be alarmed if the sauce is on the lemony side. It should be, and it will taste delicious when it intermingles with the chicken and the spaghetti squash or pasta. What you are double-checking is the seasoning. Add more salt and /or freshly ground black pepper, if needed. If you desire a particularly luscious sauce, add two more tablespoons of butter and stir until melted.

Quickly rinse the brined capers with water before adding to sauce.
6. Return the chicken to the pan, and spoon sauce over the breasts. Add the rinsed capers and a hefty sprinkling of minced parsley. Continue to heat the chicken in the sauce and reduce the temperature to low if the liquid is bubbling too much. Quickly prep the spaghetti squash or pasta, and serve as soon as possible, although the chicken keeps nicely in the pan for awhile with the sauce. Garnish each serving with additional sauce, minced parsley and shredded Reggiano-Parmigiano. Buon Appetito!


  1. A good reminder to make this in a few days but rather than breasts, I like to use thighs as they always stay so much more moist. I have yet to see spaghetti squash here in Baja but I will ask for it at my local fruteria today and see if it goes by another name.

    1. Hi Zoe... some quick research shows that it is referred to in Latin America as "alcayota" because the texture is similar to a fruit/gourd that is called "el dulce alcayota" . Looks like the "el dulce" gets made into an agua fresca.


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