Need a main dish that’s full of flavor but only requires a few ingredients? I’ve got you covered. This dish is simple, flavorful, yet elegant enough to impress a date or your in-laws. When garlic and lemon come together with a little butter and fresh parsley, you just can’t lose.
Chicken piccatta is traditionally made with white wine in the sauce, but I didn’t have any around (I know, I was shocked too) so I subbed it with chicken broth. The sauce was still finger-lickin’ good so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. But, if you have wine around, by all means, use some of it for this dish!
The serving size might seem small (each piece is about the size of a deck of cards), but you can bulk it out by serving the chicken over pasta, or if you want something fancier, try this lemon parsley pasta. Or, just serve it with a green side salad and some garlic bread for a classic meal.
And, as always, I get great prices on my chicken breasts by buying a large pack (5 lbs.) and freezing them in recipe sized portions (2-3 breasts per freezer bag). When purchased this way, the price is often at least $1 less per pound. You can double up on the savings buy keeping an eye out for sales as well.
- 3 medium chicken breasts $4.99
- 1 medium lemon $0.69
- ¼ bunch Italian parsley $0.20
- 3 cloves garlic $0.20
- ½ tsp chicken base $0.07
- a pinch salt & pepper $0.05
- ½ cup flour $0.10
- 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.22
- 2 Tbsp butter $0.24
- 1 Tbsp capers $0.40
- Prepare the ingredients so they’re ready to go when you need them: Roughly chop the parsley leaves, juice the lemon, mince the garlic, and combine the chicken base with ½ cup of hot water to dissolve. Set these ingredients aside.
- Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat. Cover them with plastic wrap and pound them with a mallet or rolling pin until they are an even thickness (about ¾ inch). Cut each chicken breast in half so that you have six pieces about the size of the palm of your hand. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, over medium heat. While the oil is heating, place the flour in a bowl and lightly coat each piece of chicken on both sides. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add three pieces of chicken to the skillet and cook until brown on each side (about 3-5 minutes on each side). Place the cooked chicken on a clean plate and cook the second batch of chicken.
- After the chicken is cooked, turn the heat down slightly (medium-low) and add the butter and minced garlic. Stir and cook for about one minute. Add the chicken broth and lemon juice and whisk to dissolve (or “deglaze”) the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan.
- Add the capers and chopped parsley to the pan. Increase the heat to medium and add the chicken back to the skillet. Spoon the sauce over top of the chicken and allow to simmer in the sauce for 3-5 minutes. The flour on the chicken will help thicken the sauce as it simmers. Serve hot and garnish with any leftover parsley.
Step By Step Photos
Start by preparing the sauce ingredients. Pull the leaves from about 1/4 bunch of parsley and then give them a rough chop (this is before I chopped them).
Squeeze the juice from the lemon and make sure to remove the seeds.
Mince the garlic.
Dissolve the chicken base in hot water. I like this type of chicken base instead of bouillon cubes because you can use exactly the amount you need. The directions say to use one teaspoon per cup of water and I only needed a half cup of broth, so I only used 1/2 tsp of base. Use 1/2 cup of white wine instead, if you have it!
Trim any excess fat from the chicken breasts.
Cover the chicken with plastic wrap (make sure you have plenty excess on the edges) and pound out the chicken until it is a uniform thickness. You can use a mallet or a rolling pin. This helps the chicken cook quickly and uniformly, as well as making the pieces larger. The piece on the left has not been pounded, while the two on the right have.
Cut each piece of chicken in two and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Put the flour in a bowl and lightly coat both sides of each piece of chicken. Throw the flour away afterwards because it is now contaminated with raw chicken.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until it is very hot, but not smoking. You can test the heat of the oil by throwing a pinch of flour into the skillet. It should sizzle heavily in the oil. Add the chicken once the oil is hot (3 pieces at a time) and cook on both sides until golden brown.
It should take about 3-5 minutes per side to brown. Place the cooked chicken on a clean plate and cook the second batch in the same manner.
Now you’ve got all of these nice brown bits on the bottom of the pan. This is the flavor. It’s a good thing.
Turn the heat down to medium-low to prevent burning the butter. Add the butter and minced garlic. Cook for about one minute or until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the chicken broth (or wine) and lemon juice. Whisk to dissolve those brown bits off of the bottom of the pan.
Increase the heat to medium again so that the sauce begins to simmer. Stir in the parsley and capers.
Add the chicken back to the skillet to re-warm it.
Spoon the sauce over top and allow it to simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly (a few minutes)
I thought I’d give you a close up so that you can be jealous…
You could probably coat the chicken in the sauce, remove it from the skillet, add some cooked pasta to the skillet and toss it in the sauce. That would be super simple and make this meal complete.