Chicken Piccata with Pasta and Arugula Salad

When I was trying to decide what to call this blog, the first thing that came to my mind was “The Lazy Chef.”  This is because I am constantly looking for short cuts, taking the most simple recipes and making them even simpler.  Sometime I find easier ways of doing things that don’t compromise the end result, and sometimes I decide a little compromising in the end result is worth the savings in time, money, or effort.  This meal is a combination of both!

The first part was inspired by my sister-in-law, who made a delicious chicken picatta meal for a large group a few weeks back.  Despite the fact that she was in the kitchen for ages, she promised me that making chicken picatta for a few people was actually really simple.  Only problem is that most picatta recipes have a good deal of butter in them, so I searched for a lighter recipe and found one at Recipezaar.  Here’s where my laziness came in: I immediately decided that I didn’t need to include the fresh parsley because I really don’t love the taste and I hate buying a big bunch of fresh herbs only to throw out most of it.  Then, as I sat down to review the recipe before starting to cook, I realized that we didn’t have any white wine on hand that’s suitable for cooking, so chicken stock had to fill in!

The salad was inspired by our recent vacation to Turks & Caicos.  On the last night, we went to an Italian restaurant that served an arugula salad tossed with olive oil, garnished with some shaved parmesan and a lemon wedge.  It was so simple and so delicious!  Hubby hasn’t stopped talking about it since our trip and I thought it would tie in perfectly with our lemony entree, so I added it to this menu.  Talk about lazy – this salad didn’t even require cutting vegetables or mixing up a vinaigrette!

So did my compromises work out?  I would consider this a very successful weeknight meal.  The chicken was good – not as yummy as my sister-in-law’s, but really tasty and, in my opinion, well worth fewer ingredients and less butter.  Wine probably would have added a nice complexity to the sauce, but the lemon and capers added good zing and it still reduced nicely.  And the salad was as delicious as the one we had on vacation – in this case I don’t think the simplicity is a compromise at all, and I would happily serve this to company.

 

 

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Chicken Piccata
adapted from Recipezaar

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
*2 teaspoons butter, divided
*1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or white wine)
*4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approximately 1 lemon)
*2 tablespoons capers
Cooked pasta for serving (optional; I used whole wheat spaghetti)

Place chicken breasts, one at a time, in a zip-top bag or between two sheets of plastic wrap/parchment paper/wax paper.  Pound to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness using a meat mallet, rolling pin, heavy skillet, etc.  Remove from the bag and dredge with flour mixed with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 teaspoon each of oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sautee chicken breasts for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through.  Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in two batches.  If so, use half of the oil and butter for the first batch and add the rest for the second.  I also got the first piece sauteeing and pounded/dredged the second piece while the first was cooking to save time.  Once cooked, remove the chicken pieces to a plate.
Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, and capers to the pan, scraping up the brown bits.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until thickened.  Add all of the chicken back to the pan, turning to coat with the sauce, and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a plate and stir one teaspoon of butter into the sauce.  Pour sauce over chicken.  Serve chicken with pasta or any other side you prefer.

Serves up to 4

*There was just enough sauce for the chicken.  If you’d like enough to toss with pasta (or if you just like a lot of sauce), I’d recommend doubling or even tripling the sauce ingredients.

Arugula Salad
adapted from Bella Luna restaurant in Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos

Ok, this isn’t really a recipe because I have no idea how much of each ingredient I used.  But here is the basic idea in case you’d like to try on your own!

Arugula
Olive oil
Salt
Lemon wedges
Chunk of romano or parmigiano-reggiano

Place enough arugula in a bowl for the number of people you are serving.  Season with salt and toss with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the leaves.  Serve with a lemon wedge and a few shavings or a thin slice of romano.

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