I have a confession to make about chicken piccata. This classic Italian dish made by sautéeing thin chicken cutlets and serving them with a tangy, buttery sauce, is one of my favorites, and it's legitimate comfort food.
That part isn't the confession, though. The confession is that the way I love to serve it is with mashed potatoes.
I know, it's heresy! Mashed potatoes aren't Italian! It's like serving escargot in a taco!
OK, it's not quite that bad. That is, it isn't bad at all — it's wonderful. I just mean from the standpoint of culinary purists who insist that every dish be served in its traditional form, with its traditional accompaniments, chicken piccata with mashed potatoes is something of a departure. Usually it's served with pasta, or maybe rice or polenta. And those are great ways to serve it. But to me, the way the sauce combines with the mashed potatoes to form a beautifully thickened gravy is what makes this dish embody everything that comfort food is meant to be.
This recipe calls for sweet onions, some of the more common varietes of which include the Vidalia (from Georgia), Imperial (from California), Walla Walla (from Washington) and Maui (from Hawaii).
As for the wine, any dry white wine, such as vermouth, or even chablis or chardonnay, may be substituted for the sherry. But I do recommend you get yourself a nice bottle of sherry, as it'll come in handy in all kinds of recipes.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets, about 4 oz. each
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup dry sherry (see note)
- 2 lemons
- 2 Tbsp capers
- 1 cup chicken stock or broth
- 2 Tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
- Kosher salt to taste
- Squeeze the juice out of one of the lemons and set the juice aside. From the other lemon, slice four very thin slices from the center (the widest part), and set those aside, too.
- Stretch a piece of plastic wrap across your work surface, place the chicken cutlets on it, and lay another piece of plastic wrap on top. Then, using a meat mallet, rolling pin or similar object, flatten the chicken breasts between the layers of plastic wrap until they are about ¼ inch thick.
- In a shallow baking dish or even a plate, combine the flour and salt.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat for a minute, then add the olive oil and heat for another 30 seconds or so. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until the onion is slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove the onion and garlic from the pan and set them aside.
- Add the butter to the pan and let it heat until it turns foamy.
- Now dredge both sides of the chicken breast filets in the flour mixture, shake off any excess flour and add them, one at a time, to the hot pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until they are nicely browned. Remove them from the pan and set aside on a plate, covered with foil, while you make the sauce.
- Add the stock or broth, sherry, lemon juice and capers to the pan and scrape off any flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan. Then return the onion-garlic mixture to the pan and heat it through, adding a bit more oil or butter if necessary.
- Return the chicken to the pan, bring the liquid to a boil, then lower it to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by about one-third. Add the chopped parsley just at the end of the cooking.
- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken breasts and plate them. Adjust the seasoning on the sauce with Kosher salt and lemon juice. Sauce generously, top each portion with a lemon slice and serve immediately.