Test It Tuesday: Capers

I decided to make chicken piccata tonight for two reasons.  One, we have a whole slew of chicken cutlets (they were on sale!) in the freezer, and I needed something for Test It Tuesday.  I suppose there are three reasons, as I also recently stocked up on whole wheat pasta, when it was on sale at Price Chopper, so we have several packages ready to use.  I have never made this dish before, and I’m honestly not sure if I’ve even eaten it.  I feel like I must have…based on the pictures, it looks like a yummy dish, and I’m not one to pass up yummy dishes.  Thanks to Wikipedia, I have learned that piccata originated in Italy (duh), using veal.  In the U.S., it is typically prepared with chicken, and can also be prepared using seitan, for those who are vegetarian.  In the U.S., it is often served with pasta, rice, polenta, or another starch, however in traditional Italy, it is served after the starch dish, as it is referred to as the “secondo” which means it is the heartiest course of a meal.  See this link for the traditional Italian meal structure.

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Moving right along, to our Test It Tuesday food item, capers.  Raise your hand if you knew that capers came from a bush?  A bush that grows leaves?  A bush that grows flowers?  Sure, we have all seen capers around, in our food in restaurants, in the pickled aisle at the grocery store, maybe even in your own pantry.  But who really knows a lot about them?  In food, they are often used as a seasoning or a garnish.  They are most common in Mediterranean cuisine (which includes Italian!).  Caper berries and caper leaves are also used in cooking.  Caper berries are sometimes even used as olive-substitutes in martinis.  You can read more about capers by clicking this link.

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I came home late from work tonight to find my husband in the kitchen cooking up a storm.  In fact, he made the entire dinner without my help…and he did such a great job! I’m so thankful for that guy.

In any case, it was definitely tasty.  The sauce was very light and brothy, which I’m not used to, since my Italian favourites include alfredo and marinara.  Capers are very salty, and kind of mushy when cooked.  I purposefully ate a couple, for the purpose of testing them (as did my husband), and the rest of the ones I ate were picked up in the noodles.  My husband didn’t like the capers at all (you should have seen his face when he took his obligatory bite).  In fact, I’m not sure how sold he was on this dinner.  He said he enjoyed it, and he cleaned his plate, but I think it goes back to the fact that we aren’t used to thin sauces.  That all being said, it’s hard to go wrong with fried chicken cutlets and spaghetti noodles, am I right??  I just read, actually, that traditionally chicken/veal/whatever piccata is dredged only in flour, then sautéed in butter and oil, whereas the recipe I used called to dredge it in egg then bread crumbs.  I think I preferred it that way, but again, who doesn’t like pan-fried breaded chicken??  Additionally, I really liked using parsley as a garnish.  It has been a long time since I’ve bought parsley (cilantro is my main green leafy friend in a bunch), and adding it to top off the dish makes me feel like I’m eating in a restaurant.  In sum, it was great to try a completely new dish!  I’d be interested in making other chicken piccata recipes, to see how they compare.

WW value of everything on my plate: 14

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Chicken Piccata

Ingredients:
-2 chicken cutlets (either purchase them that way, or cut one chicken breast in half)
-1/2cu Italian-style bread crumbs
-1 egg, beaten
-2tbsp butter
-1/4cu fresh lemon juice
-1cu chicken stock
-1/4cu brined capers, rinsed
-1/4cu fresh parsley, chopped
-whole wheat thin pasta (spaghetti or angel hair)
-2tbsp butter
-1/2cu freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
-Separate the bread crumbs and beaten egg into separate shallow dishes. Dredge each chicken cutlet in the egg, and then in the breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess breadcrumbs and place on a plate.
-In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Place two of the coated chicken cutlets into the skillet. Cook for about 4 minutes per side. Once thoroughly cooked, place on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
-Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Let butter melt and then cook the other two pieces of coated chicken, for 4 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and keep warm with other chicken.
-Pour the lemon juice, chicken stock and capers into the warm skillet. Stir and scrape up any of the loose brown bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and let sauce simmer for 5 minutes.
-Meanwhile, cook angel hair pasta according to package directions. Drain water and add 2 tablespoons butter to pasta and 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.
-Serve chicken with sauce and pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley and more grated Parmesan cheese.

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