Here I am in beautiful Virginia Beach, with my bestie, Tracy P, her wonderful husband, Mark, and their two wunderkinder, Samantha (12) and Ben (9.8). For a change, I'm getting cooked for, which is a real treat! But for one night, I took over a portion of the kitchen to cook something from the book, something I've been looking forward to for months...
Chicken Piccata (p. 248)
This is one of those ubiquitous dishes, on every Italian and/or "Continental" menu. Simple, classic, timeless.
No new techniques involved. I've already experienced pounding cutlets, dredging things in flour, and making a pan sauce. What was new tonight was cooking on an electric stove! Unlevel surface, uneven heat, argh! I didn't realize how good I had it with my gas stove!
In the end, it all worked out fine. The cooking of the chicken, while uneven, was uneventful.
The sauce, however.... You know how I'm always saying that my sauces don't reduce quickly enough? Well, this was completely the opposite. To start the sauce, you put 3T of white wine in the pan, post cooking the chicken, and deglaze until it's reduced by half. My wine sizzled away in five seconds. So unlike every other sauce I've made where I've waited 15 minutes to see any reduction, here I had to actually add more liquid just to get myself to 1.5T.
The sauce was also the surprise of this dish. Typically, Chicken Piccata comes swimming in cups of heavy lemon butter sauce, but this was very light and quite thin, really just a whisper of sauce and flavor. I'm not complaining - it was a lovely amount of sauce and flavor. But I guess I was expecting the gloopy glop I'm used to with this kind of dish, and this was so completely different.
To be fair, I made about 25% more chicken than the portion in the recipe, and I didn't increase the sauce ingredients accordingly. That said, if I were making this again, I might make some extra sauce anyway. Better to have too much....
Incidentally, this was my first time using salt-packed versus brined capers. And Martha is right - they're less salty! Even though it seems counter-intuitive, if you soak and rinse salt-packed capers, they will give you full flavor with less salt than your average wet caper.
All in all, Mark and Tracy seemed to like it, and the kids even ate it (minus the capers).
Jeff: A- (should have made 25% more sauce)
Until we eat again....