Confession time: a couple weeks ago, when a reader requested that I make this dish, I had to look it up because I had never heard of it. Somehow, I had inadvertently avoided Chicken Piccata my whole life. Although truth be told, I rarely visit Italian restaurants any longer since bread, pasta, and pizza all contain that pesky (but delicious) protein, gluten. And after that, what’s left at your typical Italian-American restaurant – salad? Regardless, I did a bit of research on the dish, and here we are.
The origin of this dish isn’t confirmed, but most believe it to be of American design, most likely by Italian-American immigrants during the 1930s. In Italy, Piccatas today are commonly made with veal, but here in the US, chicken prevails. The cutlets are breaded and pan-fried, and then a sauce is made with the drippings. It’s a simple technique made remarkable by its combination of flavors – wine, broth, lemon juice, and capers.
Chicken Piccata (Gluten-free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet, Whole30-friendly)
1/2 cup potato starch
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp lard or coconut oil, more if needed
1 tbsp butter or ghee, more if needed
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp rice flour (coconut flour okay)
1/4 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay)
1 cup chicken broth, more if needed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp capers, drained
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
chopped parsley to garnish
lemon slices to garnish
1. Combine the coating ingredients in a wide, shallow bowl, then set aside.
2. Place the chicken flat on a cutting board, then slice each breast in half lengthwise to make 2 thin butterflied cutlets, 6 total. If needed, gently pound with a meat tenderizer to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch, then set aside.
3. Preheat your oven to 180F. In a large skillet, warm the lard and butter over medium heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Dust three of the filets in the coating, then add to the oil. Pan-fry until golden and cooked through, about 6 minutes, flipping every couple of minutes. Place the cooked filets on a baking sheet lined with a wire rack, then keep warm in the oven. Repeat this step for the other batch of breast filets, adding more lard and butter if needed.
4. Add the shallot to the skillet, then saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about 30 seconds, then add the rice flour. Toast until golden and aromatic, about 2 minutes; add more butter if it gets too dry. It’s fine if it sticks to the bottom of the skillet, we’ll be getting it off there soon enough when we add the wine and broth.
5. Add the wine and chicken broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet; allow to thicken, adding more broth if needed until it’s the thickness of gravy. Add the lemon juice and capers, then add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Combine the gravy with the chicken and serve with chopped parsley and lemon slices.
** This recipe works well with veal cutlets, too.
** To make this dish Whole30, use coconut flour instead of rice flour, and replace the white wine with a combination of 2 tbsp white wine vinegar and 2 tbsp water.
If you happen to cut a little too deeply on one side while filleting the chicken, never fear; small pieces of chicken fry up just as quickly and are maybe even a little more delicious that way.