Chicken piccata is Italian fried chicken fillets braised in butter and lemon sauce. That’s the most basic definition. How the chicken fillets are prepped before frying and what else go into the sauce vary. Some versions call for dredging the chicken in nothing but seasoned or unseasoned flour before frying in olive oil and butter. Some have chicken stock in the sauce while others have white wine. In other recipes, cream is added to the sauce. Whatever way the fillets are prepped and whatever extras go into the sauce, chicken piccata is traditionally served sprinkled with snipped fresh parsley.
My chicken piccata uses chicken thigh fillets (I am not a fan of chicken breast which I find too fatless and dry) — skin on because the layer of fatty skin adds flavor and moisture to the meat, and added crisp to the crusty surface. The chicken thigh fillets were lightly pounded, dredged in flour mixed with Parmesan, dipped in beaten egg then coated with panko (Japanese bread crumbs).
For the sauce, I used rice wine which is subtly sweet and that mellows down the sharpness of the lemon juice.
Finally, for the garnish, I ditched the parsley in favor of mint leaves. Why mint leaves? Because mint leaves and citrus juice together is sensational. Anyone who loves mojito knows that. :)
- 6 chicken thigh fillets skin on
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 1 egg
- 1 cup panko (you may substitute unsweetened regular bread crumbs)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup rice wine (mirin or sake)
- 1/4 cup capers in brine drained
- 4 cloves garlic lightly pounded
- lemon slices and snipped mint leaves to garnish
- Pat the chicken fillets dry with paper towels.
- Place the chicken fillets between two large sheets of cling wrap. With a kitchen mallet, pound until flattened to a thickness of about half an inch. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place the flour in a shallow bowl and stir in the Parmesan.
- Crack the egg into another shallow bowl and beat lightly.
- Pour the panko into a third shallow bowl.
- Dredge each chicken fillet in the flour-Parmesan mixture; shake off excess.
- Dip the floured chicken fillets in beaten egg.
- Coat the chicken fillets with panko.
- In a frying pan, heat half of the olive oil with two tablespoons of butter. Brown half of the fillets on both sides then scoop out and move to a plate.
- Pour in the rest of the olive oil into the pan, add two more tablespoons of butter and heat. Brown the remaining chicken fillets then scoop out.
- Pour the lemon juice and rice wine into the pan. Stir and scrape the the browned bits on the bottom of the pan to make sure they get mixed into the sauce. Allow to boil gently for a minute. Add the capers and garlic.
- Arrange the browned chicken fillets, skin side up, in a single layer in the bubbling sauce the pan. Simmer over medium heat for about five minutes or until most of the sauce has been soaked up by the chicken.
- Arrange the chicken in a serving plate or bowl.
- To the remaining sauce in the pan, add the last two tablespoons of butter and whisk thoroughly. Discard the garlic. Pour the sauce with the capers over the chicken.
- Garnish the chicken piccata with lemon slices and mint leaves.
Note that because I used bread crumbs, more sauce was soaked up by the chicken breading. The result is that I had very little sauce by the end of cooking time. If you want more sauce, increase the amount of lemon juice and wine to six tablespoons each.