A Few Of My Favorite Things

As we enter week 9 of self-sheltering, it’s interesting to learn what ingredients in your pantry you find absolutely necessary. Of course we all need an assortment of canned and frozen vegetables when fresh are not available, along with flour, yeast, pasta, rice, beans and an assortment of dried herbs and spices. I can’t live without, garlic, onions, olive oil and olives; but the one thing that surprised me to be near the top of my list was ‘capers’. I use them in so many ways, from chicken salad, pasta dishes, pizza, potato salad, to top fish, deviled eggs, and fresh relishes.

I buy them in 32 ounce jars from our local Mediterranean grocery store. They simply pack a punch, adding texture and tanginess when added to a variety of recipes. Capers have long been a favorite in the Mediterranean region. They are well-known for being a star ingredient in Italian, French and Spanish recipes.

One of the easiest and tastiest dishes you can make with capers is Chicken Piccata. The sauce is a combination of creamy, tart and lemony and is wonderful served with rice or pasta and comes together quickly. The chicken breasts are lightly breaded and pan-fried which assures that you control the cooking time so they stay moist. Two halved and butterflied breasts will easily feed four.

SILKY CHICKEN PICCATA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces of linguine
  • 2 large chicken breasts, butterflied and halved
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (3-4 garlic cloves), grated on a micro planer
  • 1 1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1 tablespoon zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Boil salted water and cook 12 ounces of linguine according to package directions. Drain and lightly toss with a little olive oil.
  2. After butterflying your chicken breasts, let them rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Mix together flour, salt and pepper to taste in a zip lock bag. Add chicken breast pieces and shake to distribute flour.
  3. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet on medium high. Add chicken pieces to skillet. Sear chicken, undisturbed until brown on the bottom, about 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook opposite side until golden brown. You may need to adjust heat a little lower, for an additional 4-5 minutes (internal temperature should be 165 degrees). Remove from heat and tent with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add garlic to pan (add a little olive oil if necessary). Saute until slightly golden. Add 1 1/4 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil, while scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Allow stock to simmer till reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  5. Whisk together remaining 1 tablespoon of stock with cornstarch, add to skillet along with lemon juice and zest. Allow to simmer until thickened slightly then remove from heat.
  6. Stir in butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces back into sauce to reheat for 3 minutes.
  7. To serve, place a portion of pasta in a shallow bowl. Top with chicken, then sauce. Sprinkle capers and parsley on top.

Serves 4

“We can do no great things…only small things with great love.” —Mother Teresa

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