Monday, January 7, 2008

Guest Post From Rachel, The CHG Gourmet: Chicken Piccata

I love problem-solver recipes that take a lighter (but authentically flavorful) twist on traditional flavor combinations. It's a bonus if they allow you to maximize the potential of your pantry and/or freezer. It's a super-duper, triple-ding-dog-day, I-got-the-brass-ring-and-the-golden-ticket-so-chew-on-that-sucka bonus when they let you do all that and, in the process, you get to pound the daylights out of something.

In my book, Food Network host Robin Miller often has the right idea. Her roll-over meal-planning concept is incredibly CHG-friendly; basically, she constructs weekly meal plans that depend heavily on incorporating re-purposed leftovers into different flavor profiles. Since Monday's roast chicken is Thursday's chicken fajitas, your family won't be sick of the chick by week's end.

I mined this recipe as a fast-and-easy one-off. As I recall, my ornery impetus was that a) it was 7pm, b) Jeff and I were both crazy hungry, and c) I refused to make a meal using anything that would require a supermarket trip.

Sometimes, even we--the worst of the procrastinators--can eat well when we're under the gun.

Chicken Piccata with Lemon, Capers and Artichoke Hearts
Make 4 servings.
(adapted from Robin Miller's recipe, and with thanks to the Food Network)

4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup drained capers

1) Zip chicken into a plastic bag, making sure to squeeze the air out. Pound with a heavy object until each breast is about 1/4-inch thick. Remove and season with salt and pepper.

2) In a medium-sized dish or shallow bowl mix flour, lemon zest, paprika, and garlic powder. Coat chicken with mixture, and place on a separate plate, gently shaking off any extra flour.

3) In a large skillet, heat oil in over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 2 minutes on either side, until coating is golden brown and poultry is almost done. Pour in lemon juice, wine, and broth and simmer about 5 minutes. When finished, chicken should be totally cooked and sauce will be thick. Add artichoke hearts and capers and heat through, about a minute.

[Note: Once you get to the simmering phase, the cooking times are a little variable. In my kitchen, the sauce-thickening takes closer to 8 minutes, and since my previously frozen artichokes were still chilly from their thaw, they took closer to 6 minutes to warm through.]

[Other Note: Robin recommends a brown rice and lima bean combo as the starch for under this dish. Instead, I've often used left-over pesto-roasted potatoes, or 2 oz. of whole wheat orzo and 1/3 cup of frozen peas. If choosing the latter, the orzo/peas spent half their prep time in water, and half in chicken broth to enhance flavor. It's not that Robin's idea isn't awesome; I just opted for my alternatives simply because--you guessed it--they were in my pantry.]

Approximate Calories, Fat, Weight Watchers Points Value and Price per Serving
about 273 calories, about 5.9g fat, Points Value: 4, $2.13

4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves: 480 calories, 6g fat, $3.69
Salt and ground black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1/4 cup all-purpose flour: 120 calories, .5g fat, $0.05
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest/1/4 cup fresh lemon juice: 20 calories, 0g fat, $0.66
1/2 teaspoon paprika: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1 tablespoon olive oil: 119 calories, 13.5g fat, $0.08
1/2 cup dry white wine: 96 calories, 0 g fat, $0.54
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (using Better Than Bouillon, and using 1/2 cup for orzo/pea prep): 10 calories, 0g fat, $0.16
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered: 240 calories, 3g fat, $1.50
1/4 cup drained capers: 8 calories, .4g fat, $1.79
TOTAL: 1093 calories, 23.4g fat, $8.53
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): about 273.25 calories, about 5.9g fat, $2.13

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1 comment:

MagnoliaSouth said...

Excellent post!

There is one thing though which bothers me. That is the pounding of the chicken. Alton Brown has suggested some alternatives on how to do it just as easily without pounding, but even then, why pound?

When I make piccata, I never flatten it. In fact, in any recipe that calls for pounding (except for when you have to roll it with other ingredients) I skip the step entirely.

Why add the time?

I've read the reasons why you should do it, but none of them have convinced me that it's really necessary.

Does it speed cooking time? Not really. You may need to simmer a bit longer (and add a lid) if you don't pound it, but then that would be the same amount of time if you had pounded it. It equals out to be the same amount of time but with less effort.

To stretch it even further, I do something most would probably think of as blasphemy when it comes to piccata. I slice the chicken into chunks.

My meat loving family then believes that they are getting more chicken than they actually are!

To keep things CHG, you have to sometimes cheat. ;)