Chicken Picatta

 Blog_March 21, 2013

The Italian term picatta refers to the tangy or zesty component of this dish, which is traditionally made with very thin chicken or veal cutlets and topped with a lemon sauce. I don’t eat veal, so I can’t speak to the veal variety. But, we love chicken picatta at our house – thin, moist chicken topped with a bright, flavorful sauce. Plus, it features three of my favorite ingredients: capers, lemons, and shallots! The traditional picatta is simply dredged in flour, but I also make a version of this recipe with a crunchy coating made from panko which you can find here.

This is a great stand-by recipe for guests, especially folks with kids. It’s quick and easy; plus, you can simply skip the final steps with the sauce and serve the plain chicken breasts to kids that may not enjoy the taste of capers and shallots. It’s like homemade chicken strips that you can serve with their favorite condiment. And, if you have your own kids at home, you can serve them what they want, but still get an elegant meal on the table for the adults! Maybe with a glass of wine or two for mom and dad …

Whole meal suggestion: Serve with baked or mashed potatoes and steamed rainbow chard with garlic. Pairs best with white wine such as Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay.

Chicken Picatta

Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Adapted from a Splendid Table recipe
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 6
Classic Italian dish that you can easily adapt to picky eaters!
  • All-purpose flour
  • S/P
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin (about 2 pounds total)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 minced shallots, or 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. rinsed capers
  • Chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (optional), for serving
  1. Fill a shallow bowl or plate with flour and a generous amount of S/P and use a fork to mix them together. Coat the chicken breasts in the flour mixture.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add 2 or 3 of the chicken breasts, whatever will fit comfortably in a single layer in the skillet, and cook them until golden brown and almost cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the browned breasts to a plate and repeat with another tablespoon of oil and 2 or 3 more breasts until all of the chicken is cooked to this stage. (If you are planning on serving some of the chicken without sauce, simply cook a few more minutes until cooked through and set aside while you make the sauce for the other chicken.)
  3. Don’t clean the skillet! Add the shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat until they are tender, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, if using, and the chicken broth and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Simmer until the liquid reduces slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the slightly undercooked chicken to the pan and let them simmer to finish cooking, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Add the lemon juice, butter, and capers to the skillet and stir until the butter is melted. Taste for seasoning, adding S/P to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle it with parsley, if desired.
*To pound your meat, simply place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, (or a large ziplock bag with the air squeezed out) and pound with a mallet or rolling pin. *To save yourself the trouble you can also buy the thinner chicken cutlets or ask your meat department if they can pound them.