The first time I made a piccata sauce I was up at Sea Ranch with a friend, staying in a rental house. We had some leftover boneless pork chops and I searched through some Internet recipe sites looking for ideas. For some reason we had capers, and an onion, and a lemon. It’s tough cooking in a rental house, but fun. You don’t have your pantry items that you can count on and yet, being on vacation, you’re in an experimental mood. I can’t think why we would have had the small jar of capers, but they must have been leftover from something earlier in the week. We pounded the meat, dredged it in flour, and cooked it up like this. Now I mostly do it with chicken breasts but every time I make this, I think of that house on the cliff, sitting in the hot tub with the fog rolling over the hills at night, hearing the waves break on the beach, sipping a glass of wine after a delicious dinner.
I did a piccata variation tonight, mainly because I started out to make one thing, realized I had misread the recipe and needed to make some adjustments. I had already opened a can of black olives before I noted the recipe called for bone-in chicken breasts and I had boneless skinless chicken breasts. I decided to just do the chicken piccata we love but add some black olives to it. The recipe I’d been looking at, from the Mark Bittman book The Minimalist Cooks Dinner, had some diced tomatoes, black olives and capers, which sounded really good to me. But this piccata variation was a bit quicker and the olives added a nice touch.
Sauteed Chicken with Olives, Capers, and Onions
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup flour
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbs oil
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
- 2 Tbs capers
- the juice from 1/3 of a lemon
- 1/2 cup liquid chicken broth and/or white wine
- If you like, pound the chicken until thin. It cooks more quickly this way and tastes better to me, but takes a bit more effort. Either way, salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Heat the oil and butter, dredge the chicken breasts in flour, and then lay them in the pan. Cook a couple of minutes and turn the meat around (but not over) to cook evenly. A few minutes later, turn the chicken breasts and cook until done. Remove to a platter and keep warm in a 200 degree oven.
- Add the onion and cook a few minutes until softened. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the wine and/or broth. I like to use about half and half if I have both available but either one by itself works fine, too. Scrape the pan to loosen up any bits, then add the capers and olives and lemon juice. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.
The basics of this sauce, to me, are the wine, capers, and lemon juice. You can add onions, mushrooms, peppers, and, now, black olives as desired. Use pork or chicken. And I think veal is the original meat for piccata but I’ve never cooked it.