Tangy Chicken Piccata with capers
CAPERS are the flower buds of Capparis spinosa, or the caper bush, which is native to the Mediterranean region.
They are widely available preserved, either in brine, salted, or in a mixture of vinegar and salt.
Whatever variety you buy, they are nearly always packaged - frustratingly - in tall skinny jars, just a bit too narrow to fit a teaspoon. I cannot, for the life of me, discover the reason. Capers have been used since ancient times; maybe some Roman dignitary had a mean streak and decreed that it should be thus. I resort to using the handle of the teaspoon to lever them out of the jar.
Capers should be rinsed well in fresh water to remove as much salt as possible.
Capers are the principal flavouring of sauce tartare, beloved of devotees of fish and chips.
They are also used in puttanesca pasta, as a seasoning for smoked fish and, as in today's recipe, in a piccata sauce.
This simple dish works equally well with fish, so you can substitute salmon or some other fillets for the chicken. Adjust the cooking time accordingly as fish cooks faster than chicken.
- 4 boneless breast fillets
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 3 tbsp capers, drained or rinsed
- juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Slice through chicken breasts diagonally so they are of similar thickness all the way through.
- Combine flour with salt and pepper in a bowl, and coat chicken on both sides, shaking to remove excess.
- Heat oil in a frypan and brown chicken pieces on both sides in batches. Transfer to a baking dish and keep warm.
- Return pan to heat and add wine, stock, capers, lemon juice and parsley.
- Deglaze the pan and cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the butter, a little at a time.
- Pour over chicken and bake at 180°C for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
Serves - 4