Sunday, March 06, 2011

Recipe for Chicken Piccata with Fried Capers

I love this version of Chicken Picatta which has fried capers and doesn't use flour.
 (This revisited recipe was updated and added to Recipe Favorites March 2011.  This is a great version of Chicken Picatta for Phase One.)  Chicken Piccata is one of those classic dishes that are relatively easy to master, quick to prepare, and always tastes great. This recipe from my current favorite cookbook, Fine Cooking Annual, caught my eye because the chicken wasn't dredged in flour, and it called for a very minimal amount of butter compared to many recipes I've seen for this dish. But what really sold me on trying it was the fried capers.

Chinese cooking involves "seasoning the oil" where garlic and ginger are fried briefly in hot oil before you add other ingredients. Here I think frying the capers in olive oil before you brown the chicken takes Chicken Picatta to a whole new level.



Capers are not berries as many people think, but the unopened green flower buds of the Capparis spinosa. They have an astringent sharp flavor, and are used a lot in Mediterranean cooking. Capers must be picked by hand, which makes them expensive. According to Wikipedia, capers are sorted and sold by their size, with the smallest ones being considered the best. They are sold pickled or salted, and both types should be rinsed. The pickled fruits of the same plant are known as caper berries, and have a more intense flavor.

Read more about capers at The Perfect Pantry, where Lydia does such a great job of helping us learn more about the ingredients we're using.


Chicken Piccata with Fried Capers
(Makes 2-3 servings, but could easily be doubled. Recipe adapted slightly from Fine Cooking Annual.)

Ingredients:
2 or 3 very large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T nonpareil capers (or less if you don't love capers as much as I do)
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to season chicken
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning (optional, not in the original recipe)
1 clove crushed garlic or about 1/8 tsp. garlic puree
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock (or use canned chicken broth, but be sure it's low sodium)
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Splenda or honey (use Splenda for South Beach Diet)
1 T butter, cut up (original recipe called for 2 T, but I thought 1 T was plenty)
1 T chopped fresh parsley

Instructions
Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts. Cut each one in half to make two pieces about the same size. One at a time, put pieces inside a heavy ziploc bag and pound chicken to make it an even 1/2 inch thick. Season chicken with a small amount of salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning if using. Chop parlsey and set aside.

Rinse the capers and pat dry with paper towels. In a 10-inch nonstick frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add capers and fry until they open slightly and crisp a little, took 60-90 seconds for me. Remove pan from heat and use a spoon to transfer capers to paper towel, letting the oil drip back into pan.

Get oil hot again, then saute chicken on top side until nicely browned, about 3-4 minutes. Turn over and cook on other side until chicken is done, probably only 1-2 minutes on the second side. Arrange chicken on serving dish with browned side facing up. (You can cover them to keep warm if you want, but I didn't and they were fine.)

While chicken browns, measure out chicken stock, garlic, butter, and lemon juice so they are ready. Add garlic to hot pan and saute 15-30 seconds. Add chicken stock, and scrape pan to dissolve browned bits. Cook until stock is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and Splenda or honey, then turn off heat and add butter, stirring until butter is melted. Add half of capers and parsley to sauce, then pour sauce over chicken, garnishing with remaining capers.


South Beach Suggestions:
Even though butter is not recommended for the South Beach Diet, I think the small amount of butter here is important for flavor. You could use something like Smart Balance spread if you feel strongly about it. Even with the butter, I would eat this for any phase of the South Beach diet. For phase one, this would taste great with Mary's Perfect Salad and Roasted Asparagus with Garlic. For phase two or three you could replace the salad with Brown and Wild Rice with Pine Nuts and Thyme.

Look What Else Tastes Great with Capers:
(Recipes from other blogs may not be South Beach Friendly, check ingredients)
Baked Fillet of Akaroa Salmon with Capers, Chives, and Sweet Chili Sauce from Bron Marsmall
Cauliflower with Pancetta, Capers, and Parmesan from A Veggie Venture
Sweet Tomatoes Stuffed with Bell Peppers, Zucchini, Capers, and Couscous from Lucullian Delights
Savory Rugelach with Olives, Onions, and Capers from Toast
Chicken Liver Crostini from Becks and Posh
Fig and Black Olive Tapenade from David Lebovitz
Patricia Wells Fricasee of Chicken with White Wine, Capers and Olives from French Kitchen in America
Persian Spiced Halloumi from Gastronomy Domine
Beef Carpaccio from Cooking Diva
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53 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Chicken Piccata is one of my husband's favorites, I must try this one. Looks wonderful!

Jeena said...

Hey Kalyn, Nice recipe with capers - I don't see to many caper recipes around I havn't tried them yet myself :)

cookiecrumb said...

Frying the capers first! That sounds irresistible.

Sandy-LA 90034 said...

Sounds delicious! As usual, I enjoy your amazing blog!

Susan said...

I am a huge fan of capers and use them frequently in my cooking. While some brands are expensive, I've shopped around and found Goya and Cento both offer good values.

Mimi said...

I've been thinking of making Chicken Piccata, Kalyn, this will give me the incentive I need.

My husband had this on our second date - but i"ve only made it once.

Thanks for the link - SBD is wonderful!

Lydia said...

Kalyn, thanks for the mention. This looks like another of your elegant, yet not complicated, recipes. And your photos are getting more and more luscious!

Kalyn said...

Tanna, thanks as always for your nice compliments.

Jeena, capers are great if you like tart flavors.

CC, I was quite intrigued by it too, and it's a keeper.

Sandy-la, thanks so much!

Susan have to look for those brands. I get a huge jar of them at Costco, which works for me, but it can be a challenge to use them up.

Mimi, you're welcome. Glad you like South Beach.

Lydia, thanks so much. I'm sometimes not overly thrilled with my photos, but I did like how this one turned out. Thanks for the good caper info.

Sandy Curtis said...

Kalyn,
I'm taking this little number to Florida when we go at spring break. Marthat loves capers and it looks so easy. I'm drooling as I type!!
Sandy-NV

Kalyn said...

Hooray, my friend Sandy left a comment on the blog. This is the person I used to have so much fun doing the D.C. restaurant thing with when we were on the NEA Board together. (That's National Education Association for those who don't know.)

sher said...

I love capers, and that picture shows them off perfectly!

Merisi's Vienna For Beginners said...

Can't wait til I can cook that piccata, so utterly tempting I broke my fast and ate a whole jar of giant Sicilian capers last night.

Bradley said...

It looks fantastic. Piccata without capers is just not right. The idea of frying them is great as while I like the taste of capers, I never enjoyed the texture of them.

Helene said...

What a yummy dish, we are cooking with capers today!! So all around the world alike tastes!! :)

simcooks said...

I've never tried capers before but my buy a bottle one day if I get into the capers mood. Thanks for providing the list of capers recipes. I then don't have to crack my brain on what else I can use capers for!

Rebecca & Dale said...

I've tried this twice now and it's just delicious! Thanks so much!

Kalyn said...

Rebecca and Dale - thanks for the feedback. I loved it, so I'm glad to hear that it turned out well for you too.

Candace said...

I just tried this tonight and it was absolutely wonderful. I forgot to add the splenda, it did not even need it. I will definitely be making this often!

Elizabeth said...

This looks great -- I am a total caper fanatic. The bright green parsley adds a nice touch, too. I like to serve chicken piccata with capers in a white wine sauce and then garnish with large caper berries and lemon slices.

Rapunzel said...

Believe it or not, I'd never tried capers until a couple of years ago when My Man bought me some for Christmas. LOL That sounds weird but they were part of a "cooking basket" that he whipped up for me. He'd never tried them and never will again..grin...but I loved 'em!

Thanks for this recipe, Kalyn; I'm back "on the beach" and really need the inspiration.

Kristi said...

This was really good, healthy, and not too complicated! My husband and I both loved it. He recommended I make this when we have guests. Thank you for sharing!

Kalyn said...

Kristi, glad you liked it!

slice said...

This was AWESOME!!!! Loved the sweet and salty taste. I could eat this everyday with your cheesey zucchini.

Kalyn said...

Slice, thanks for letting me know you liked it!

Eliza said...

We're big caper fans and also buy the big jar at Costco. We use capers in our tuna, grilled cheese, paninis, salads (with greens and pasta), and just even for snacking for the kids (ages 2 and 6). They're also a must with anything salmon (salmon, caper, and brie pizza?!). I'm trying this recipe tonight!

Eliza said...

I made this tonight and totally messed up and added the broth with the lemon juice and maple syrup at the same time. It was still really good. The fried capers are awesome though and I would double or triple them for next time. I would fry capers for other things too!

Kalyn said...

Eliza, I was also really impressed with the fried capers when I made this. Glad you liked it, and as long as it's good, who cares if you follow the recipe exactly?

Erica said...

Yummy!! The fried capers added a nice twist to the dish!!

Kalyn said...

Glad you liked it. I love it that people are discovering this recipe since it's been here so long!

Sarah said...

This is my third time making this! I had meant to leave a comment before, this is truly a delicious dish! I find myself almost licking my plate for every last bit of the sauce! lol.

Kalyn said...

Sarah, thanks, that's always nice to hear!

DeconstructingTheHome said...

Thanks for posting. I love chicken piccata and am always looking for new South Beach safe recipes.Thanks!

Kalyn said...

Glad this appeals to you; I loved this recipe when I tested it.

Paula {Salad in a Jar} said...

I love capers but don't cook with them much. Glad to have this recipe.

Kalyn said...

Thanks Paula. I love capers too, and I love this recipe.

Renie said...

This recipe is a big staple in our household, my husband gets excited when he hears I'm making this! Frying the capers made such a big difference from the recipes of my past!

Kalyn said...

Renie, so glad to hear you have enjoyed it!

SallyBR said...

I've had this recipe from Fine Cooking in my files ever since it was published. I love capers, must make it soon...

Georgia said...

I made this tonight, sort of....I'm bad about reading ingredients and then proceeding on my own, so I didn't exactly follow your instructions. Still, it was delicious!

Kalyn said...

Sally, don't you just love Fine Cooking! It's my absolute favorite food magazine.

Georgia, glad to hear you enjoyed it!

TheGourmetCoffeeGuy said...

Your Chicken Piccata recipe sounds exquisite. We like capers but never thought about frying them first. Very nice tip. Thank you for sharing. Very nice post.

Kalyn said...

Frying the capers really makes a difference in this dish.

Jen said...

I made this last night and we loved it. Thanks!

Kalyn said...

Oh Jen, so happy to hear that! Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

Regina (Lexi) said...

Made it last night. Loved it. Thanks for all the great suggestions. Enjoy your preparation photos. Very helpful! I am so happy I found your blog. Down 15 lbs. and counting!

Kalyn said...

Lexi, that's great! Glad you liked the recipe too.

Loisada said...

Thank you Kayln the picatta was a bit hit on our table last night, even with the caper wary kids!

Kalyn said...

Thanks for letting me know (and I love hearing about kids eating capers!)

Ken said...

Hi, liked the idea of the fried capers, so I lifted the idea and made a Swordfish Piccata with fried capers last night. Came out incredible; pan-seared the fish quickly and poached in white wine, reduced the liquid plus lemon juice and sauteed capers/Vidalia onions to make the Piccata sauce. Really nice.... - Ken

Kalyn said...

Ken, I think that sounds like a brilliant idea to use fried capers with swordfish!

SusanL said...

This recipe is great, thank you so much for such a great blog! I just started South Beach on Sunday (down 5lbs already, woo hoo!) and your site as been a lifesaver! I made this recipe last night, and your mustard chicken on Monday, and your spinach and leek breakfast casserole on Monday as well--all great receipes! Thanks also for making your site mobile-friendly--I cook a lot right off my IPhone (my husband says it's not the best idea to keep my $300 IPhone next to a hot stove, but what does he know, haha!)--so having the site mobile-friendly has been a livesaver. Thanks again!

Diana said...

I made this recipe tonight. I cut it down for just one person, since my fiance does not enjoy capers. It was really delicious and easy. I had more than enough sauce to enjoy with the chicken.

Kalyn Denny said...

Diana, glad you liked it!

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