food. family. life.

chicken piccata (piccata di pollo)

What is piccata?

The definition of the italian word  “piccata” basically means “larded” or tasty, savoury or piquant (sharp) like the flavor of lemon or brined capers.

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fresh picked capers. photo courtesy of www.http://theshepherdandtheolivetree.com/

Larding is an old technique where slivers of fat are injected into a cut of meat to make it tender and richer in flavor.

Today, small amounts of organic butter in the cooking process and finishing sauce has replaced the need for lard.

The history of the “piccata” dish is even more confusing. Some believe the recipe originated in Italy, while others believe it was created by Italian-American immigrants here in the U.S.

This recipe was created for veal, however this dish lost it’s main following in the states around 1960 due to reports of cruelty to the calves by U.S. mass producers and suppliers of veal meat at the time.

Veal became a crucial and highly ethical food issue as more reports surfaced stating most mass producers were raising their livestock by very cruel and inhumane methods; none of which I ever supported or condoned.

Disclaimer: I neither recommend, suggest or advise anyone on what type of meat/food item or product they and their families should buy, eat and/or support. I do believe in taking the time to read and research any and all food articles and reports so you can make the very best personal decision for your own families based upon current reported and proven facts.

Some initial changes were made to enforce strict regulations and laws on mass producers, the fight is still active today as it takes years to see real change in mass production.

A small group of independent livestock farmers in the U.S. slowly gathered together and returned to raising calves for veal, this time using more traditional, natural and humane methods.

These local independent farmers returned to the style of livestock farming my famiglia in Italy has adopted for years.

This humane practice has quickly spread over the years to include all varieties of livestock. Today we can find and resource growers and producers who offer a range of meat, fish and eggs raised humanely, where the animals are roaming freely and living naturally.

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fresh lemons. photo courtesy of http://www.swisse.com/au

Note: You can find natural organic veal raised humanely and cruelty-free, research sources in your local market areas before purchasing.

My first introduction to piccata di vitello (veal piccata) was during a meal in Italy made by my famiglia who raised their own livestock in these very same traditional methods allowing all the animals to graze in pastures with their mothers and grow naturally.

The livestock at my famiglia’s farm in Italy (ducks, chickens, cows, pigs, goats, rabbits and sheep)are cultivated in the tradition of open natural surroundings and fresh accessible food.

I have a deep-rooted respect and gratitude for these old teachings and methods the Italian farmers follow, many have used these ideas for thousands of years in their famiglia.

The evolution of the “piccata” recipe in the U.S. came years later as consumers and chefs replaced controversial veal with chicken which became a popular option, easily accepted by the mainstream.

I have always believed we should eat what we love and we should always research and know where and how our food is grown and raised before it goes to market and is placed on our table.

The most natural, close-to-the-earth approach is what I look for in all matters of our famiglia’s healthy food choices.

This classic and delicious recipe with chicken uses fresh lemons and capers in brine, a Mediterranean bud-like plant ingredient we love to use to season grilled meats, fish and certain pasta dishes.

{piccata di pollo}

INGREDIENTS

2  large skinless, boneless organic chicken breasts (or 4 organic humanely resourced veal cutlets, if preferred)

unbleached flour

salt and pepper to taste

3 tbsp or so of olive oil

3 to 4 tbsp. of unsalted butter

1/4 cup or so of brined capers, drained

1/4 cup organic unsalted chicken stock (preferably homemade)

1/4 cup good quality white wine (low acid preferred)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

fresh-cut lemon wedges

fresh italian flat leaf parsley (if desired) chopped

suggested sides: creamy polenta with parmigiano, quinoa (cooked in chicken stock and seasoned as you wish), saffron risotto or capellini pasta with garlic & olive oil or butter served with plenty of sauteed greens of your choice.

Rinse and trim the chicken breasts of any excess skin or fat. Carefully slice each breast section in half so you end with four pieces of chicken.cucinadiammina_chickenpiccata_01

Place the chicken breasts on a piece of wax paper and cover with another piece and gently using a meat mallet, pound the meat to achieve the desired thinness of a cutlet (about 1/4 inch or so.)

Remove the cover paper and season both sides of the pieces with salt and pepper to taste.

Dredge the chicken pieces in flour and shake off any excess.

In a large deep skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of the unsalted butter.

Bring this to medium-high heat until butter melts and starts to sizzle. Place the chicken pieces in two at a time at most and sauté until golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes per side.)

Remove and place on a large serving platter and set aside.

To the same skillet, add the white wine to deglaze and the chicken stock.

Bring back to medium-high heat so it starts to slowly simmer and cook; stir this mixture for about two to three minutes, then add in the lemon juice and continue cooking until it starts to reduce.

Once reduced, slowly add in about 2-3 tbsps. of butter and stir together until melted. Add in the capers and continue to cook; reduce heat if necessary so as not to reduce too much (if needed add a bit more stock to loosen.)

The finished sauce should be slightly thickened at this point.

Remove from the heat and taste for seasonings, add salt and pepper to taste and pour the finished sauce with capers over the cooked chicken, add chopped parsley if desired and serve immediately with the fresh-cut lemon wedges to taste.cucinadimammina_chickenpiccata_02

 

Note: Photography provided by Carina A. Favale

Buon Appetito!

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