Classic Chicken Piccata

By • February 6, 2014 • 32 Comments

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Author Notes: An easy dish to prepare, this chicken piccata still makes a presentation elegant enough for company.Linda Johnson

Food52 Review: The flavor of this recipe was absolutely delicious, with a tart pucker from all the lemon and capers that's balanced by a last-minute addition of butter and the fresh brightness of parsley. The shallots get melty as they cook down, making for a sauce that's perfect on its own with the angel hair and even better when you add the chicken.A&M

Serves 6

  • 2 large lemons
  • 6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded until 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • Couscous or angel hair pasta, for serving
  1. Cut one lemon in half lengthwise. Trim the ends from one half and cut across into thin slices about 1/8 inch thick; set aside. Juice the remaining half and whole lemon to obtain about 1/4 cup juice; set aside.
  2. Season both sides of the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper. Place flour into a shallow dish or pan. Coat each breast with flour, and shake to remove excess.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Cook half the batch in the skillet without moving them until lightly browned on the first side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Turn and cook until the second side is lightly browned, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate kept warm in the oven, or cover with aluminum foil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add remaining chicken pieces and repeat. Add cooked chicken to previous batch and keep warm in 200 degree oven.
  4. Using the pan in which you cooked the chicken, sauté the shallots in the oil and browned bits remaining in the pan. Once shallots become translucent, add the chicken broth and lemon slices. Allow to cook until lemon slices are well-softened.
  5. Add the capers and lemon juice, and allow to reduce to concentrate flavors. Remove pan from heat and swirl in the butter until it melts and thickens the sauce. Swirl in the parsley. Spoon over chicken and serve immediately over a bed of couscous or angel hair pasta.
Jump to Comments (32)

Comments (32) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago Anna Walsh

I made this dish last Sat for dinner party. Everybody loved it. Thanks for such great recipe for boring chicken.

Stringio

3 months ago Dona

I made this last night, loved it!

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3 months ago Margo

I made this last night. Very good recipe. I really enjoyed this. 10/10

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4 months ago Louis Tufano

I have shared this recipe with many of my friends and they are happy i did


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4 months ago Linda Johnson

Cathy you're right; that's why this recipe calls for a heavy-bottomed pan but doesn't specify cast iron. I use a heavy All-Clad stainless steel pan - works like a charm every time and cleans up easily.

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4 months ago Cathy Gordon

I would suggest avoiding cast iron for making the sauce that amount of acid in the lemon will get muddled when cooked in cast iron.

Wrong_apple

4 months ago sevenfaces

I made this with unflattened chicken thighs; fried in the pan and finished in the oven. Juicy and delicious! The piccata sauce was great over fluffy cous cous, crumbled feta and steamed cauliflower. A new favourite for me!

Food25

5 months ago Tom Salamone

Linda: This is the first time I made chicken piccata. Made it as a late dinner as my wife is working on a project. Forgot the parsley and the lemon slices, had to sub onion for shallot and only had bow tie pasta, but it worked. It actually tasted very good. My wife got a kick out of my attempt and I ended up quite proud. So, thank you very much for presenting this recipe in a manner I could (1) follow and (2) produce good results. Be well, Tom

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6 months ago Linda Johnson

Jampot, you don't have to pound the chicken flat; in fact I actually prefer keeping the chicken breasts thick, allowing their plumpness to retain their juiciness. So glad you enjoyed this recipe - it's really classic cuisine. I often serve it over couscous made with chicken broth but any favorite will work!

Me

6 months ago jampot

Thanks Linda! I really appreciate your help! I guess "flat" may have been an overstatement? I guess I pounded to around 1/4" thick... it was a new experience for me haha. I was amazed at how juicy the chicken stayed, even after frying. I'm so happy with this yummy goodness :)

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6 months ago Linda Johnson

You're so welcome! If you enjoy the pounding process, you should also try making Chicken Kiev. It's really simple but also elegant and delicious, and who doesn't enjoy buttery goodness oozing from the center when you cut into it?!

Me

6 months ago jampot

I just finished licking my plate clean! This is a wonderful recipe and even my kids were goo-goo for it! I served it with angel hair pasta, yum! This is the first time I've actually pounded a chicken breast flat. Yeah, I know, I'm a newbie. But it was worth the time and effort! The chicken cooked perfectly for me at 2.5 min per side and the flour gave the perfect amount of "crust" for the chicken. Juicy and flavorful, I now have a wonderful recipe to add to my kitchen arsenal. Thanks so much!

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8 months ago EmilyC

I made this last weekend and enjoyed it! It's a nice combination of flavors and comes together easily. I found myself wanting more sauce so I could spoon plenty over both my pasta and chicken (like in the picture) so I'd recommend doubling the sauce.

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6 months ago Linda Johnson

I so agree with you about more sauce!

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8 months ago mks2643

I appreciate the photos that accompany the recipe. Seeing the photo made me use green onions instead of shallots. I do get confused with use of shallots, But green onions were perfect for this chicken.

Stringio

8 months ago Alex Sanger

This is a poorly written recipe. "Cook half the batch" of what?

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8 months ago anne

Chicken. What else? Geez.

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8 months ago mary

why don't recipes print with the picture?????

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8 months ago OmniumGatherum

When are the chicken stock and shallots added?

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6 months ago Linda Johnson

It's interesting - they didn't post it exactly as I submitted it: right after frying and removing the chicken, you should sauté the shallots in the oil and browned bits remaining in the pan. Once shallots reach translucent, add the chicken stock with lemon slices. Allow to cook until lemon slices are well-softened. Then add the capers and lemon juice, allow to reduce to concentrate flavors.

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8 months ago Louis Tufano

also the main part is the pan must be very hot so when you put the chicken in it seers fast

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8 months ago TERRYE HEATLEY

Is the 6th diner a vegan?

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8 months ago frog

This recipe is almost exactly the one by Jack Bishop in the January 2001 issue of Cooks' Illustrated. The only difference is that his calls for 4 breasts cut into 8 paillards to yield 4 servings, which makes more sense than 5 breasts to yield 6 servings.

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24 days ago davidd50

What is/are paillards?

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24 days ago frog

A paillard is a slice of meat pounded thin.

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24 days ago frog

I should add that the French spelling is paillarde, the name of a restauranteur. Without the e, it means lecher or libertine.

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8 months ago Louis Tufano

try not to move the chicken until the time is up when chicken is cooked it will come loose from pan . Very good recipe I love it

Stringio

8 months ago Soo Jin McBride

I feel like I'm not doing the flour, then pan fry thing right. I find the "batter" just peels off in chunks and makes the dish unappealing. Any tips? What is the flour supposed to do?

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8 months ago Karen

Try coating it lightly in a bit of flour, then let it rest for a couple of minutes. The moisture will seep through the coating. Then, a second dusting will "dry it out." Alternately, I've had luck mixing a little cornstarch into the flour. That makes it crispier and absorbs moisture.

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8 months ago Jim

Dry the pounded breasts with paper towels and then refrigerate for 10 - 15 minutes. The surface will be dry and somewhat tacky and will hold the flour.