Italian food is a standby for me — it’s at the top of my list. Many of my favorite restaurants are Italian — L’artusi and dell’anima in New York, Buon Appetito in San Diego — hell, I’ll even go to the Olive Garden (those breadsticks though). This is a classic Italian dish that uses really simple, fresh flavors that combine perfectly (recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentis). The essence of a piccata is lemon, butter and capers and a thin cutlet of meat that is lightly breaded and sauteed. The sauce is bright and acidic but also rich and smooth from the butter, with a little salt from the capers. It’s just delicious. I served this alongside a lemon spaghetti — also super simple with parmesan, basil and lemon juice/zest, and a healthy amount of fresh ground black pepper — and a broccoli/green bean combo with some crushed red pepper and garlic.
- Make sure you use unsalted butter for the piccata — salted will be way too salty
- You can see from the picture that my sauce separated a bit — I needed to do a better job of emulsifying it (fierce whisking in order).
- 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil
Broccoli and Green Beans
- 8 cups broccoli florets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 pound green beans
- 2 tablespoons cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more if desired
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Place broccoli into pot and cook for 2 minutes. You just want to parboil the broccoli at this point since you will saute it later on. Using a spider strainer, remove broccoli from pot and shock it in a bowl of ice water. When broccoli is completely cool, place it in a colander and allow to drain. Refresh the bowl of ice water. Bring the water back to a boil. Add green beans and cook for 4 minutes. Like the broccoli, you just want to parboil the green beans. Remove green beans from pot with spider strainer and add to ice water. When green beans are completely cool, add them to the colander and allow to drain.
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil. When almost smoking, add the garlic and saute for about 45 seconds. When the garlic starts to brown, remove immediately and discard. Overcooking the garlic will impart a very bitter taste to the dish. Add the red pepper flakes, broccoli and green beans to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.