When Life Hands You Lemons . . .



. . . and chicken . . . and cream. When you marinade and grill chicken all summer long, the cool fall weather brings a welcome change. I woke up this morning as I do most mornings, with no idea what's for dinner tonight. It turns out I had all of the ingredients to make a piccata and we hadn't had this for a couple of years. I also had no plans to photograph this until midway through cooking, when I realized my photography table was in perfect position and I managed to catch the last glimpse of fall evening light.


The mellow creamy taste of the sauce and browned chicken contrasts beautifully with the tang of the white wine, lemon, and the briney bright caper taste. And when you cook in a cast iron pan, you'll savor the little brown bits that scape up into the simmering sauce.




Most chicken piccata recipes do not include cream, but I love how it mellows out the acidic lemon and wine. This dish is surprisingly quick to make, though creates a bit of a mess with flour and plates and tongs in a flurry all about.


There are two keys to successfully pan frying chicken: first, tenderize the chicken down to no more than ¾ inch thick to quicken the cook time (and keep the meat tender). Second, place chicken in a sizzling hot pan with bubbling butter (or oil) to brown the meat and lock in the moisture and flavor.


This is perfect served over angel hair or any pasta and pairs perfectly with any dry white wine.



Creamy Lemon Chicken Piccata



Yields Approximately 4 Portions // Prep Time: : 30 // Total Cook Time: : 30   



INGREDIENTS 


+ 3 large chicken breasts, cutting the short end off then butterflying the remaining half (creating 3 pieces)

+ 1 cup flour

+ 1 tsp. salt

+ 1 tsp. fresh pepper

+ 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

+ 1 tsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice (if you prefer a zippier lemon taste, experiment with a bit more)

+ 2 tbsp. butter to brown chicken

+ 2 tbsp. brined capers, drained 

+ ½ cup dry white wine

+ ½ cup chicken stock

+ 1 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche (similar to sour cream but with a nuttier, more mellow taste)

+ angel hair pasta

   


EQUIPMENT 


+ sautée pan (or cast iron skillet)

+ juicer (small hand juicer for lemon)

+ pastry brush

+ whisk 

   


DIRECTIONS 


  1. In a shallow bowl or on a plate, mix flour, salt, pepper.
  2. Begin water for pasta.
  3. Bring butter to bubble in medium-high pan.
  4. Place 3 or 4 chicken pieces in gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Close and pound to about ¾ inch thick.
  5. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, tapping off excess, and place in pan. Be sure you hear a sizzle when placing the chicken down. Brown the chicken on both sides until they are golden, about 2-3 minutes on each side. This will essentially cook the chicken through. Place chicken aside and cover with foil.
  6. Juice the lemon.
  7. In the pan, scrape the brown bits loose from the chicken.
  8. Add the lemon, wine, chicken stock, and half the parsley. Simmer until the liquid reduces to half.
  9. Add the heavy cream or crème fraîche, whisking until blended well.
  10. Add the chicken (and any reserve juices) and capers.
  11. Drop angel hair pasta (or short-cooking pasta; if using thicker noodle, drop sooner according to time). 
  12. Simmer chicken for another 3-5 minutes while pasta cooks to meld the flavors and rewarm the chicken. Be sure chicken is cooked through.
  13. Serve chicken over pasta, topping with remaining parsley.
  14. Cool and enjoy with a glass of white wine.