chicken piccata

chicken piccata | The Clever Carrot

My husband calls this chicken ‘panna cotta’ by the way.

Chicken piccata happens to be a childhood favorite of mine; tender chicken simmered in white wine, lemons and capers. It requires little effort, and I usually have most of the ingredients on hand (i.e. the wine).

This dish is very adaptable too. I’ve made it several different ways, including a version with mushrooms and beef stock. I also use half the amount of butter found in traditional recipes giving it a light and fresh update.

And I serve it over this-

warm cracked wheat + spinach | The Clever Carrotwarm cracked wheat + spinach | The Clever Carrot

Couscous was my original go-to, but the combination of cracked wheat or bulgur and baby spinach is my new standby. To make it extra flavorful, I cook the grains in chicken stock. The residual heat wilts the greens making it the perfect bed for this juicy dish.

FYI- I’ve pretty much replaced couscous exclusively with this alternative grain. Although the texture is very similar, cracked wheat is packed with protein and fiber making it a healthier option.

I use an instant kind which is conveniently ready 10 minutes.

chicken piccata | The Clever Carrotchicken piccata | The Clever Carrot

If your ingredients are well organized, this meal will only take about 30 minutes to get on the table.

I somehow manage to destroy my kitchen whenever flour and chicken is involved, but the mess is well worth it. It has become an easy, weeknight staple in our house.

Besides, those of us who can’t get the name right should have to do the dishes anyways, don’t you think? ;)

Tips:

  • To save on time, you can purchase thinly sliced chicken cutlets instead of regular sized chicken breasts. Or to save a couple bucks, simply slice them yourself.
  • If you cannot find cracked wheat, try using couscous, rice or another grain of your choice.
  • To make this gluten free, substitute with gluten free flour where applicable.
chicken piccata | The Clever Carrot

chicken piccata
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
I grew up eating chicken piccata. It's a meal time tradition I'm happy to continue. Watching my mom make this over the years, I've learned that it's all about organization. Here's my tip: while the chicken browns, use that time to prep the rest of your ingredients. Dice the shallots, open the wine (have a glass!) and make the garnish- this way, you're one step ahead.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Chicken
  • 1½ lbs. thinly sliced chicken cutlets
  • ½ c. flour + 1 teaspoon, divided
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp. butter, divided
  • ¼ c. shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed with a garlic press
  • ¼ c. white wine
  • 1½ c. low- sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp. brined capers, rinsed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
  • lemon slices
  • 3 tbsp. roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Cracked wheat + spinach
  • 1½ c. instant bulgur wheat
  • 3 c. low-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1x 14 oz. bag baby spinach
Kitchen notes:
You will need a large, 12- inch skillet. Alternatively, brown the chicken in batches or use two pans if you're comfortable multitasking.
Substitutions:
  • Couscous and Jasmine rice make excellent quick-cooking side dish options.
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of chicken stock to a boil. Add the bulgur wheat. Remove from the heat, and keep covered for about 20-25 minutes or until tender (drain any extra liquid if necessary). Add the olive oil and 2 handfuls of spinach. As you begin to stir, the residual heat will wilt the greens. Add the rest of the spinach and keep warm until ready to serve.
  2. Add ½ c. flour to a shallow bowl; add the remaining 1 teaspoon to a separate bowl for the sauce.
  3. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. Dredge the cutlets in flour shaking off any excess as you go. Transfer to a plate.
  5. In a large 12-inch skillet, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches or use two separate pans. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Note: it is important to monitor the heat so that the flour does't burn. This will impart a bitter flavor to the sauce.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, prep the rest of your ingredients. Dice the shallots, mince or crush the garlic, open the white wine, rinse your capers, chop your parsley, and slice the lemons for garnish. If you use this time wisely, the dish will come together quickly in the end.
  7. To make the pan sauce, reduce the heat to low. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Saute the shallots until soft, but not colored, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  9. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid by half.
  10. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. To thicken the sauce, add a splash of stock to the reserved teaspoon of flour and whisk well to dissolve any lumps. Add the flour mixture to the pan, whisking constantly, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
  11. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
  12. Add the juice of half a lemon and sprinkle with capers.
  13. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan.
  14. Taste the dish; season with extra lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired.
  15. To serve, transfer the chicken to a serving platter and spoon the sauce over the top.
  16. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley.
  17. Serve with bulgur wheat and spinach on the side.

Comments

  1. says

    Ah man! It is not even time for lunch yet but you could put a plate of this in front of me and I would gladly eat it all :) This is by far one of my favorite dishes and they never make it right at those terrible reception halls. This is a dish you MUST make at home and yours is exactly how I would make it. Beautiful pictures :)

    • Emilie says

      Ah yes… reception hall chicken piccata (I laughed). So gross and greasy, right? My mom made this for us all the time growing up and it’s just so satisfying. I’m pretty partial to lemons too! Thanks for stopping by Sandra :) xx

  2. says

    Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite dishes..there’s something about the lemon and capers that I just can’t get enough of! I’ll have to try the cracked wheat. We found a harvest grain blend at Trader Joe’s that has couscous, orzo, lentils, and garbanzo beans and we’ve been eating it with just about everything!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Lily! I’m a big fan of lemons and capers too- I keep a GIANT jar of capers in the fridge (I feel like I barely make a dent in that thing!) But it’s such a nice ingredient to throw into dishes last minute. If you can find cracked wheat, definitely try it! In fact, Trader Joe’s has an instant one, labeled as bulgur wheat. That’s the one I use. I’m going to have to check out that harvest grain blend next time I pop in… thanks for the tip! :)

    • Emilie says

      Thanks Jocelyn! I hope you try it :) And wouldn’t you know- I got this serving platter on sale for 10 bucks! You gotta love a good deal…

  3. says

    Oooohhhh, Miss Emilie…pan cotta or whatever, it’s luscious! I have to make! Just hope it turns out 50% like yours!! xoxo

  4. says

    What a wonderful meal! Some classics have just been done to the proverbial nth degree, and I often think, “Oh no, I am just not going to do that recipe.” But your version of this is a stunner, and so beautifully presented. Your style is light and engaging, yet so tempting. You made me laugh with the mention of your husband. Bart always comes sup with the goofiest names for things. Husbands – gotta love them… Happy New Year to you!

  5. says

    This is so so pretty. I love bulgur wheat and appreciate what you’re saying. I love that you offer tiny alternatives. Not only do I give anything to cook like you do, but also to take photographs this brilliantly !!

  6. Rosemary says

    Love this dish but never had a good recipe. How much shallots, you only state 1/4 is that 1/4 cup or what

    • Emilie says

      Hi Rosemary,
      You’ll need 1/4 cup of diced shallots for this dish. I hope you enjoy the recipe :)

  7. Pam Green @MyNewlywedCookingAdventures says

    Beautiful food as usual. This looks simple and homey and delicious all at the same time!

  8. says

    Aw yay, another use for my huge stock of bulgur (which I love!). Great idea to cook it in chicken stock, I normally just add a twist of lemon to the water but I’ll try your idea next time. LOVE the look of those beautiful chicken pieces. I’m a fan of piccata too, or ‘pannacotta’ as your husband calls it (my man does the same thing with various dishes… I love it, it cracks me up!). I will definitely try your recipe, thanks Em xx

  9. says

    I always forget about a simple chicken piccata and yours looks fabulous! Nice addition of the grain and spinach…a complete meal…and then panna cotta for dessert:)

  10. says

    Love it. I make the same thing with pork as I am not a huge fan of chicken.
    I love the side dish too. Making something similar tonight! Beautiful photo’s ! Wow!
    Barbara
    Sunday at the Giacomettis

  11. says

    This is a recipe I always order when I find it on the menu.. now I’ll have to try this for dinner this week. I’m crazy about lemons these days and have no idea why.. but I know for sure I’ll love this! Thanks for sharing!xx

  12. says

    I will be picking up the ingredients for this delightful recipe later this week – cannot wait!! (my boys have never been caper fans but I’m hoping the lemon flavor will overtake them ;-) and they will discover a new love. Try and try again, right?). Such a beautiful recipe. Thanks for sharing this one – x.

  13. Amanda says

    It’s my 30th birthday and I made this for dinner. I didn’t want the fuss with the hurried dinner of going out to eat with a 15 month old, etc. My husband entertained our son and I cooked; I wouldn’t have it any other way. This was so delicious. I will make it again and again. Light (yet still filling), refreshing (not the heavy cold weather food), seemingly gourmet (but so easy!) and an excellent warm “pick me up” dish. We paired it with a Bogle Chardonnay. You’re welcome. :)

    Thank you for the delicious recipe. Can’t wait to try more!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Amanda! Happy birthday!!! Thank you so much for your kind compliments :)
      I totally know what you mean by not wanting to go out to the ‘hurried’ dinner with kids. I have a 2 & 4 year old and it’s always crazy, not matter what. But that’s why we have wine, right?
      When I read your comment, I couldn’t help but smile. I’m so glad that you and your family enjoyed this recipe. And I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by and give your feedback as well! Thanks again! :)

    • Emilie says

      Oh good! So happy to hear that you liked it- especially the kids (that’s always a plus). Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment :)

  14. Lisa says

    Oh boy, was this good! I was a little apprehensive, since my husband isn’t a bit chicken piccata fan, but he went back for seconds on this and finished it off! Served mine tonight over forbidden (black) rice with a side of broccoli. The sauce on the leftover rice will be delicious for lunch tomorrow ;) Thank you, Emilie, for another new favorite. Can’t wait to make this for company!

  15. says

    I love, love how you made this classic so fresh and vibrant! Sharing this for sure. Keep up the beautiful work Emilie.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Karen! Thank you!

      I grew with chicken piccata. Depending on who made it, the recipe wold vary slightly… sometimes mushrooms, sometimes capers, sometimes beef stock. And I always loved it. Still do. That’s why I was inspired to share my updated, lighter version we eat weekly. Honestly, I think the sauce is my favorite part. With bread of course!

      Thanks again for taking the time to stop by and comment, Karen. I really appreciate it!

      PS- I’m a big fan of your delicious recipes ;)

  16. Kevan Smith says

    This recipe looked so good I had to try it. It took about an hour to make and it ended up looking just like the pictures. That never happens!

    I couldn’t believe how good it tasted and that I actually could make something that good.

    Thanks for the great recipes and website!

    Kevan

  17. Erin says

    This will be on the menu for tonight! Healthy comfort food is exactly what I’m always on the lookout for since my husbands tends to lean to the comfort side and myself to the healthy side. This looks like a great combo of both!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Erin!

      I just made this again last night for dinner ;) We have the same situation in our house; my husband likes comfort food and I like healthy. Hence the reason for this blog!

      If you’ve never made this before, here’s a great tip: while the chicken is browning, use that time to prep the rest of the dish (shallots, wine, garnish etc). It comes together quickly in the end and this way you’ll be prepared. I mention this in the actual recipe itself but it never hurts to say it again.

      Happy Cooking!

  18. Renee says

    Just wanted to say I made this and it’s so good!!! Didn’t make the salad part but we ate extra chicken instead :D

    Thank you for such a great recipe that’s easy to follow and turns out like the picture!!

    • Emilie says

      Yay! Renee, this is fantastic! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave feedback. I really appreciate it :)

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