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Chicken Piccata Pasta
First, let me say that this may or may not be a true/authentic “piccata” recipe. I really don't know. What I do know is that this is a pasta dish I’ve been preparing for several years that is loosely based on a Chicken Piccata recipe I found online. I found it a bit challenging to write up this recipe because I’ve prepared variations of it so many times that I never measure the ingredients and rarely cook it the same way twice. Sometimes I add pesto. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I add sun-dried tomatoes. Usually I don’t. I've even added spinach or swiss chard when I've had that on hand. In other words, this recipe can serve as a great base of exploration for those of you who like to make a dish your own.
Chicken Piccata Pasta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Salt & black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 tablespoons brined capers, rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
Red pepper flakes
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Season the chicken with salt and black pepper (or if you want to give it a bit of a Cajun flare, you can use Tony Chachere's instead). In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When it starts to sizzle, add the chicken and cook until it's browned on both sides. (You'll probably need to do this in 2 batches, depending on the size of your pan. If so, add a little more butter and oil between batches.) Transfer the browned chicken to a bowl. In the same skillet, sauté the shallot and garlic for about 2 minutes and then add the lemon juice. This is when I scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon/paddle to get all the good bits. Next, add the capers, and then return the chicken to the skillet, making sure to pour in any juices that accumulated in the bowl. Add about a cup and a half of chicken stock and a dash of red pepper flakes. Note: This is where I would incorporate any optional add-ins, like a tablespoon of pesto or sun-dried tomatoes. Cook over low heat until chicken is under and sauce thickens up a bit. You might need to add the remaining chicken stock along the way to make sure you end up with a lot of sauce. When you know it's just about done, stir in the remaining butter. (It helps to extend the sauce, and everyone knows "butter makes it better.") Before serving, mix in cooked pasta (I usually use about 3/4 of a package/box of penne or bowtie) and chopped parsley.
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