November 5, 2013

Chicken Piccata Pasta

I love the flavors of chicken piccata. As far as I'm concerned, the chicken is an afterthought. It's the sauce I'm after. Rich with garlic and shallots, bright with lemon juice and capers.

Capers are the edible flower buds of the caper bush. When you bite into a caper, it releases a little burst of salty, pickle-flavored juice. The flavor of capers is the defining flavor of chicken piccata.

In addition to piccata dishes, you'll find capers in pasta puttanesca, remoulades and vinaigrettes. You might recognize them as the dark green, pea-size spheres you see next to the lox and cream cheese on a bagel spread. 

Traditionally, chicken piccata is served as a breaded cutlet topped with its defining lemon-caper sauce, and served on a bed of pasta.

This variation takes the essential components and turns them into a one-pot meal. It's lighter because rather than dipping the chicken in an egg wash and breadcrumbs, it's just lightly dusted with a bit of flour. I used mini penne, my son's current favorite pasta shape. But use any short pasta you like.

Gather your ingredients.

Set pasta to boil.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss lightly with flour.

Lightly brown chicken in hot butter/oil mixture. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add shallots (I used sliced red onion, but will use chopped shallots next time), garlic and thyme to the same pan. Cook until shallots are tender.

 Add flour, stir to coat shallot mixture, and cook for a minute or two until the flour is golden brown.

Whisk in lemon juice and chicken stock. Let simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the capers...


And pasta. 

Serve warm.

Chicken Piccata Pasta

Minimally adapted from A Spicy Perspective

1 lb chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces (you can also use breasts or tenders)
1 lb pasta
4 Tbsp flour, divided
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 ounces capers, drained

1.    Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.

2.    Meanwhile, salt and pepper the chicken liberally and toss with 2 tablespoons of the flour.

3.    Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and oil.

4.    Drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook as instructed on the package then drain.

5.    Once the butter is melted, place the chicken pieces in butter/oil mixture and saute for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and just cooked through. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to dry.

6.    Add the garlic, shallots and thyme to the same pan and saute for few minutes, until the shallots are tender. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour until it turns a light golden brown. sauce.

7.    Then whisk in the lemon juice and chicken stock.

8.    Once the sauce is simmering again, toss in the capers and chicken. Mix in the pasta and serve warm.

Serves 6.

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