Chicken Picatta (Whole30 Compatible)
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Servings: 4
Chicken picatta is one of my regular go-to dishes, particularly in late March or early April when those of us who live in the Northeastern US are finally beginning to thaw out. As the brutal cold of winter gives way to the gentle warmth of spring, this easy yet elegant dish is a perfect harbinger of the more pleasant days to come.
Consisting of a delicate escalope (a thin slice of meat) of chicken in a bright lemony sauce, chicken picatta is the perfect dinner for those still slightly chilly and sometimes rainy days when you want to bring a ray of sunlight into your kitchen. It’s an added bonus that this dish takes twenty minutes or less to prepare (particularly if you start by getting your mise-en-place done [i.e. having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, grated, mixed, etc. before you start cooking]).
Traditionally, chicken piccata is dredged in seasoned flour prior to being browned in butter. This primal-inspired version uses almond flour instead of wheat. It also substitutes chicken stock for white wine when making the sauce. Personally, I like to add a little freshly grated Parmesan to the almond flour for dredging. This gives the crispy coat on the chicken a nice, savory tang. Those looking to avoid dairy (or looking for a Whole30-compliant recipe), however, can eliminate the Parmesan and still have a wonderfully delicious plate.
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2, although the organic butcher I get my meat from also has them thin sliced)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
1 cup finely-ground and blanched almond flour
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (omit if eliminating dairy or to make Whole 30 compliant)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1¼ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
¼ cup lemon juice (freshly squeeze, about 1 large lemon)
¼ cup brined capers, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Depending on the thickness of your chicken, you might want to cut the breasts in half length wise. Place each piece of chicken between two sheets of plastic food wrap and pound with a meat hammer until approximately ¼“ thick.
On a large plate or bowl (I find shallow food storage containers like the leftover plastic trays used for Chinese takeout perfect), combine the almond flour, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
In a second plate or bowl, whisk together the eggs and water (I add a little more pepper, but that it not necessary).
Blot the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel, then dredge first in the egg mixture and then in the almond flour mixture. Make sure both sides of the chicken is evenly coated.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter (this combination gives a nice buttery flavor and also raises the smoke point of the oil). Set the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter aside for finishing the lemon-caper sauce.
Sear the chicken breasts in the hot skillet until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. You are not looking to cook the chicken completely through at this point, only to get a nice crust on the meat. Depending on the size of your flattened chicken breasts and the size of your pan, you might need to sear the chicken in two batches.
Transfer the browned chicken breasts to a foil-lined baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven for another 5-6 minutes.
While the chicken finishes coking in the oven, add the stock, lemon juice and capers to the pan.
Turn up the heat on the pan to high, using a whisk to scrape up any of the tasty brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the sauce is reduced to about ½ cup in volume, about 5 minutes. Take the pain off the heat and whisk in the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter.
Return the cooked chicken breasts to the pan, spooning the sauce over them. Serve immediately, sprinkling with freshly chopped parsley as a garnish. Plate with your favorite vegetable on the side, like lightly sautéed asparagus.