Monday, April 18, 2011

Prick Your Tongue with Chicken Piccata

As with any old recipe, there are numerous theories as to how the dish came to be named. The one I subscribe to claims it's an Italian adaptation of the French word "piquer," which means to prick or poke with something sharp. This makes absolutely no sense, until you taste it.

The "to prick" is apparently a metaphor for the sharp, intensely flavored sauce. Thanks to lots of lemon, capers, and wine, this sauce is about as subtle as a right hook (apologies to non-boxing fans for the reference).

Here, I've demonstrated a very basic version of a recipe that begs for variation. I'll sometimes add minced shallots, or garlic; sometimes I'll use wine, other times just straight lemon. Italian parsley is wonderful as the finishing herb, but switching that out for tarragon or basil will also bring much pleasure.

One note about the chicken: I like to use larger breasts, pounded to about 1/2-inch thick. If you are using small 6-oz chicken breasts, there's no need to pound out. Most versions I've seen call for the meat to be pounded extremely thin, but I believe this comes from the fact that the original recipe used thin veal medallions, aka scaloppini.

At home we have the luxury of a few extra minutes, and I think the slightly thicker chicken gives you a little nicer bite. Anyway, I hope this post "piques" your interest, and you give this quick and delicious recipe a try!


Chicken Piccata Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
salt and fresh ground black pepper as needed
cayenne to taste
all-purpose flour for dredging
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained (tip: for more intense flavor, mince 1 teaspoon of the capers, leaving the rest whole)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water or chicken stock
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/4-in slices
2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped

83 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW I had a completely wrong idea of what chicken piccata is! im making this tomorrow!
mine had a creamy dark mushroom sauce. don't know if there are different versions of it. doesn't seem so...

theo said...

"thats not a lot of butter, its a butter sauce!"

well played chef :)

Clinton McMurray said...

First!

Thanks Chef John, this looks great and very adaptable to whatever is in the pantry besides lemon, butter and capers. It's much like the lemon-caper-butter-sauce you made with Sole Dore a few years back which is a favourite.

Anonymous said...

My mouth can't stop watering.

Anonymous said...

This looks awesome, and simple... Gonna have to try it. Also, will we be able to see you cook with bobby flay? I don't know how hellmanns is running this sandwich cook- off

Ορέστης said...

It's cold and it's Monday in Athens, the perfect opportunity for a prickly festive quick dinner such as this. keep up the good work Chef John!

André said...

Sorry, Chef John. But you cook them for 45 Minutes(!) per side? Isn't that a little long for thin chicken breasts?

Anonymous said...

Chef John I really love your site and thanks for so much inspiration. I am a Dad who gets to set foot in the kitchen and cook on Saturday evenings...I blow the family away with your creations... Anyway my question is...Why put the chicken back in the sauce to heat through? Is it ok to reserve the cooked chicken in a warm oven and then plate it and pour the sauce right on top?
Thanks and best regards

Chef John said...

andre, that would be 4 to 5 min per side (if you were serious)

Anonymous said...

Dear Chef John,
each and every one of your food videos is an epic foodgasm.This site is unbelievable...and also the cause of major drooling over my keyboard.
On a side note,I recently got myself some muffin tin trays and can't wait to use them.Would you consider making a muffin video perhaps sometime in the future?Pretty please?:)
Greetings from Greece

Livia said...

Looks amazing. Any recommendations on what to serve as a side with this?
Would mashed potatoes be ok?

André said...

Oh! Sorry for that. I did understand "forty-five minutes" and not "for to five minutes". No purpose! Thanx very much for your answer.

Chef John said...

Sure! Rice, pasta, etc

Anonymous said...

can we brine the chicken breast before making this recipe? will it boil?

Chef John said...

You could, but don't bother.

Jason said...

Hey Chef,

So many of your recipes call for white wine but I don't drink white wine and I have no idea how long wine keeps in the fridge. Also wine's kinda expensive and I cant see buying a bottle when I'm only gonna use a half cup.

Can I substitute something else or what? If not what kind of wine do I buy?

Thanks

Asian Malaysian said...

Regards first Anon's post: I suspect youre thinking about Chicken Marsala, a different chicken dish that Chef John has also wonderfully demonstrated on this website. Dont feel bad, I confuse the names of dishes all the time too.

Chef John said...

Just get any cheap $8 bottle of white wine. Any supermarket special will do! You can even buy little mini bottles! There is no real sub.

Mimi said...

I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. Thank you so much Chef John!

Anonymous said...

I dunno Chef John...I thought the asparagus souffle with the roasted red peppers actually looked pretty good!

Anonymous said...

You can freeze leftover wine in suitable portions...very handy for non wine drinkers.

Paul said...

I just recently stumbled upon you blog, and I just made the Chicken Piccata. Eating it as I write, so to speak.
It is just amazing, I really love it. An explosion of flavours indeed.

I bookmarked a whole lot more of your recipes, and I will be working through them pretty rapidly, I guess.

Thank you for the work you put into this, just amazing. :)

Greetings from Germany,
Paul

Jim said...

Made this last night. Came out pretty good although the sauce was a bit thin. I had doubled everything as i was using 4 breasts and I think that maybe 1/2 cup of water may have been just too much.

Thanks Chef!

Healthy and Homemade said...

YES! Thank you for this recipe, I have everything except the chicken which makes it very likely that I will be making this for dinner tonight =) I'm happy to have a use for my jar of capers.

Anonymous said...

Cbef John...is there a more intense chicken flavor if you use the stock instead of the water?

Susan Chin said...

Hi Chef John,

This chicken piccata look so good and delicious. I definately will try this since this recipe was easy to made/cook and on hand I have a bottle of capers.

Thank you Chef for this video. Have a good weekend!


Best wishes,
Susan Chin

Anonymous said...

You did it again! Thanks John for adding a ton of flavor to my life. I have made this about 6 times in the last 2 weeks.. I'm trying to perfect the sauce. It's a Hit!

Andria Sparhawk said...

Dear Chef John,
Just made chicken Piccata for dinner and it's yummolicious!! MY whole family loves it even the kids like it too! Although they had no idea what capers are, they were willing to give it a try. I absolutely love it myself. I will for sure make it every 10 days! Thanks so much!!
Andria from N California

Mark said...

Hey Chef John!

I stumbled on your blog and I my first attempt at your chicken mushroom dish was a complete success! Man, was it ever tasty. Kudos, and thank you for sharing it!

Now, I'm looking at making this dish, but I'm actually on a Paleo diet; that means NO GLUTEN and therefore no wheat flour.

I'll probably test this out with both coconut and almond flours, but I was wondering if you had any insight into how they may alter the flavour profile. Will this be too noticeable a change for the recipe?

Finally, I browsed your blog, but I couldn't find any recipes for a beef jerky marinade. Is this something you may look to cover in the future?

Anyway, thanks again for the lovely recipes!

Regards,
Mark

Chef John said...

Sorry, Ive never use those flours, and I'm afraid my GF knowledge is pretty thin.

You may see a beef jerky marinade sometime in the future, thanks!

HiFiTunes said...

We made Chicken Piccata with Thomas Kellers cured lemons, and it was very good. It had a slightly more complex flavor. We also cooked the rice with cured lemons.

Chef John said...

Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

I typically add fresh minced garlic with the capers, sometimes will add shallot too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chef John,
hello and how are you,

if possible Chef, would you prefer to receive such emails direct to foodwishes@yahoo.com or would you prefer i contact you this way.

the reason i wanted to send an email was to ask you if you ever had a chance to make the chicken kiev, this is a little old to ask for now but it is a favorite for many and i would kindly request if you would cosider making a video.

i hope you have the time and look forward to the recipy soon.

i think you're the best and wish you all the success that you truly deserve

your N#1 fan from Beirut, Lebanon

Razmig

Athena said...

Holy moley I measured out 1/4 cup of lime juice (no lemons at home) and boy oh boy the sauce came out so freakin' sour! Chef john, is it supposed to be like that?? I've never made chicken piccata at home before but I've had it many times in restaurants and it's never been this tart. If my sauce is too tart, what can I add to fix it and make it less tart? I tried adding some water, some milk, and even a little sugar and (to say the least) it was a hot mess. :/ Help!

Chef John said...

It's a very tart sauce, but the line are more tart and not the best for this recipe. Not much u can do now. Sorry!

Chicau said...

It's always such a quandry....
Chicken French? Chicken Piccata?
Chicken Piccata? Chicken French?
Why does life have to be this difficult?
Chicau

Araxjan said...

Chef John,
This recipe is for 2 chicken breasts, and I was cooking 6. Was it right for me to triple all the ingredients, including the lemon juice and capers? I feel as though it turned out to be extremely sour.

Chef John said...

theoretically yes! but ALL cooking is to taste, so you need to adjust for you.

Anonymous said...

Holy Moly,
Chef John I'm hooked on your site! Everything I try turns out awesome and my husband and I thank you so much for adding a little 'spice-o-life':>)

Araxjan said...

OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU RESPONDED TO ME!!!!

Anonymous said...

This was very good...however could you put the written instructions for prep and not just the video. It froze up and I was on my own...so my chicken was a bit more over cooked while I was trying to get the video to work. Thank goodness I was a more experienced cook and could wing it. But an inexperienced cook could have been totally lost without written step by step instructions. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This looks like it would taste amazing, and it seems like a good recipe for someone who's watching what they eat too. Just to make sure, is there any way I could get the nutrition facts?
Thanks!

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I don't calculate that info.

Anonymous said...

Can I use 'Cooking White Wine' or will it not taste the same?

Chef John said...

that stuff is usually terrible!

conishkee said...

Hey Chef John – Happy New Year! I made the Chicken Piccata for the second time last night and it turned out as fabulous as the first time I made it. The only thing I did different was to add some garlic and onion powders, Adobo and a bit of cumin with the salt and pepper in the flour. After dredging the chicken in the flour mixture, I let it sit for about 30 mins. before frying. I absolutely LOVE the flavor the capers gives it, and the lemony flavor from the fresh lemons is out of this world. I did, however, add 3/4 cups of wine, together with 3 tlbsps. of capers, which kicked it into full swing, and 4 tlbsps. of butter, so you can imagine how rich and creamy it turned out. I made approximately 5breasts, so the measurements were perfect. Thanks so much for inspiring me with all your wonderful recipes. It’s my go to cooking website!!

Anonymous said...

Delish dish, Chef John!

ChefJohnsBiggestFan said...

Well, all i can say is DAYYYYUM. It was incredible. Absolutely delish !!!!!!

Jesse A. B. said...

I got a big bottle of white wine for christmas and I'm not a huge wine drinker (I unfortunately have a pabst blue ribbon pallet) and I needed a recipe to actually use the wine and Chicken Piccata saved the day.

Thanks!

Ps. Good luck to your Giants.

Erica said...

I'm a terrible person! I made a substitution. I used sake instead of white wine, because that's all I had. It was awesome. Thanks!

Mo said...

This is the second recipe that I've tried from your site. (The first was the roasted chicken for Julia Child.) Both recipes were absolutely delicious! My husband is not a big eater, but he loved both dinners so far (and he had seconds of the roasted chicken.) Thanks for such a great website!

A suggestion: when you're doing your videos, could you mention the quantities that you are using? I keep the video playing as I cook, and it would be great if I didn't have to touch my computer with my messy fingers to check the quantities. Just a suggestion. Thanks. ~Mo

Anesays said...

Hi Chef:

I found your "Chicken Piccata" recipe and I wanted to know the ingredients for 6 people.

Author said...

Thank you for such a delightful and simple recipe. My husband and I greatly enjoyed your video; and, making and eating the dish.

Anonymous said...

Hello Chef John,

Your videos have inspired me to try my hand at new dishes that I never would have had the confidence to make. I made the chicken picatta for my 13-year old daughter this weekend and she hasn't stopped raving to her friends about it since. She thought it was better than going to a fancy intalian restaurant!! What an easy and delicious recipe. I would love to know, though, the ingredients for 6 or 8 cutlets. I want to make this for my whole family later this week, but I don't know the quantities or if i should be cooking in a few pans at once. Thanks Chef John!!

Anonymous said...

Can I use chicken stock or broth for a substitute of white wine?

Liz Flynn said...

This was wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing this. I originally found you looking for a fried green tomatoes recipe and I've been hooked on your blog ever since. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

This is THE BEST chicken breast recipe I have ever made, and I have been cooking for 30 years. Served if the first time with cous cous, had 7 people over for dinner. None of them had ever heard of capers! It was amazing. It was a bit spicy so I quickly made a dip using plain Greek yogurt with lemon juice for those who needed a "coolant." The leftovers (I cooked 3 lbs of chicken! ) were even tastier. Well done!

EricM said...

I'm new here but I made this with Mahi Mahi last night and it turned out KILLER!!! Thank you!

Kelly Siew said...

I've made this twice already based on your recipe and you are right!! This is going to be in my regular rotation of meals.

I've served it with a Quinoa salad the first time, and tonight I served it with a Rocket salad and Sauteed Mushrooms. Delicious!

Thanks so much for being such a inspiration!

Jay said...

Hi Chef John, thanks for this video, really appreciated it. You narrate very well and the touches of humour are great. Easy to follow along and fun to watch. Thank you!

Kristi Fields said...

Hi Chef John , made this tonight. Everyone loved it! Thanks so much for the recipe!!

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

You have made my family very happy tonight. The piccata was just incredible. I've made this recipe two nights in a row. The first time was for my wife. It was soooo good, I was wanting more and made a midnight snack, but the real test was my 15 year old daughter, she doesn't even like chicken and it was her favorite meal ever! Thanks John. I'm your number 1 fan! You have made eating a treat!
James
California

Anonymous said...

Made this 5 days ago and have been dreaming about it ever since, will be making it again tonite. I love the way you cut to the chase with all your recipes. Well done thankyou!

Anonymous said...

I made this a while ago as a "Try anything Wednesday". My wife does not like lemons, capers, butter or wine but I gave it a shot anyway and SHE loved it. We have had it alot since and it has become her favourite dish, I serve it with your "Broken Spagetti" recipe and it seems to be the perfect combination. BTW, I am always telling my wife and others, that a combination of igredients is always different than those ingredients alone

mdb139 said...

I made this tonight for my wife -- it was a huge hit -- thanks Chef John!

I only had a half-lemon (about 1/8 cup) for a full recipe and didn't want to open a batch of chicken stock to supplement, so I used water with a half teaspoon of dijon for flavor. Turned great. I served mine with just some angel hair pasta with a bit of the piccata sauce stirred in, and brussle sprouts.

Thanks again!

Chef John said...

Sounds great!

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Hey Chef!

I'll have ya knows 'dat I done made me my first Chicken Picatta evers and 'dat it done turned out to be a mighty good eatin'!

And I also done serves it alongs wit' da' delicious Brocolli Angel Hair Pasta dat' ya also done posted awhiles back.

By da' way... it done made me feel a real good to chop up 'dem tough brocolli stems into little itty-bitty pieces 'cause 'dem stems 'shor ain't da' boss of me.

Yippers! Evens my finicky lady-friend done tells me 'dat I be doing 'sum fine cookin'.

Thanks!

Jo Ann Roeter said...

Chef John - You had 1/4 cup chicken stock in the list of ingredients but in the video you didn't say when to add it. Did I miss something?

Daniel Bottoms said...

Hey John,
just to say i did this for Sunday lunch with pork tenderloin today! chicken breasts looked hideous yesterday at grocery and only other thing was the tenderloin. I scanned these comments to see if anyone had done this sauce with other white meats and didn't see anything... so just to report it was VANTASTISCH!!!! Cut the loin at an angle for better pounding length... trying to simulate the chicken breast surface area idea... and seasoned exactly as you described, made the sauce with this amazingly cheap chard-pinot blanc i can get here for like 5 dollars (price in this country way better than USA for wine) and the wife and kids went nuts for it! the pork was succulent and even though it was "over-done" for tenderloin, was truly amazing! Served with warm salad of sautee'd broad beans and shallots and wilted cherry tomato... just a bit of left-over basmati rice for the carb.

I could totally see this sauce technique done now for pork-chops....

cheers from Austria,
Daniel
PS> Sorry if i'm an idiot and someone (or you) posted can/should do this with any white meat.

Chef John said...

thanks!

Meghan Brunette said...

Chef John: you've taught me so much in just a couple of videos. Thank you, and I thought I was a good cook till I watched you, lol. Love the videos on my roku player, you crack me up!

dz.m.ziv said...

Hey Chef!
I wanted to make this same recipe with some sort of white fish instead of chicken, should I adjust cooking time at all?
Thanks!

Chef John said...

Yes, but can't give u a time. You'll have to check!

anika29 said...

Hello Chef John. I'm very new to cooking, and I almost always make something from your blog (thanks for the videos). I would really like to try out this recipe. However, I've never cooked with wine before (and I know nothing about wine)...are they different for cooking? What do I look for? Thanks :)

Chef John said...

same as drinking wine! If you can drink it, you can use it.

Brenda said...

I live in France and I am a biiiig fan. However, I now have a new hobby, and that is trying to find a Chef John recipe which does NOT contain cayenne pepper! Just joking, I love your vids John, you always give me a giggle.

anjelica dobbs said...

Just made this dish for friends and family, they all loved it. Thanks Chef John.

anjelica dobbs said...

I just made this dish to night for my friends and family. They all loved it. Thanks chef John!

mdb139 said...

I love each of your grilled chicken recipes that I've tried, but was craving your chicken piccata so I decided to make this over the weekend for my wife and kids and me. While it wasn't the first time I've made this recipe, it did remind me of how great of a recipe this really is, and how much I've learned watching your videos.

Thanks Chef John!

Vanessa Sheane said...

This was absolutely amazing!!! I wish I could spend a day with you, cooking, you're funny and I love all your recipes! My family keeps asking for this dish, so thanks! :)

Vanessa Sheane said...

This was amazing! I'm making it for the 4th time in two months (that's a lot for my picky-eating family) They've requested it a lot!
On a side note, I'm harnessing my chef "skills" and would absolutely love to spend a day with you! Do you ever do cooking classes?
Thans chef John!

Chef John said...

Sorry, I don't! Thanks!