General

A spicy chicken piccata recipe that can also be made with mushrooms

A spicy chicken piccata recipe that can also be made with mushrooms

Chicken or Mushroom Piccata

Total time:30 minutes

Servings:2 to 4

Total time:30 minutes

Servings:2 to 4

Placeholder while article actions are loading

This recipe comes from the eat greedily newsletter. Register here to get a weeknight dinner recipe, substitution tips, techniques, and more delivered to your inbox Monday through Thursday.

A silky sauce, tangy with lemon and the salty punch of capers, is a hallmark of piccata recipes in North America.

But a common misconception follows the delicious dish. “I don’t know why you Americans think it’s all about that sauce,” my friend Lucia tells me over the phone from Italy.

In fact, in Italian, a piccata is a thin piece of meat that is pounded flat, according to several sources, including “The Food Lover’s Companion” and “The Dictionary of Italian Wine and Food.” In numerous cookbooks it is used interchangeably with the term scallopini; in English today we would call it a cutlet.

The 2005 edition of “The Silver Spoon,” one of Italy’s best-selling cookbooks, lists two recipes for piccata: Piccata al limone, which translates as “veal scallops in lemon,” and piccata al marsala, “veal scallops with marsala.” “, neither of which contain capers.

A 1955 menu of Casina Delle Rose & Lucciola – a once glamorous restaurant and banquet hall that now belongs to Rome Casa del Cinema — mentions Piccata di Vitello Al Pomodora (veal chops in tomato sauce) for 800 lire.

What Americans today think of as piccata, with a creamy pan sauce, clear with lemon and tart with capers, is more of an Italian-American riff on that pounded Italian cutlet.

A wonderfully fast, surprisingly easy riff that can be made with almost any protein or vegetable.

Here’s how it goes: small, thin chops—below I suggest boneless, skinless, cut in half horizontally, or large trumpet mushrooms cut into thick slices—are covered with mustard and lemon zest, dipped in flour, and pan fried until they are deep golden brown throughout. Remove them from the pan and make a pan sauce by adding some liquid (white wine, stock and/or water) and let it reduce while scraping off the browned bits. Beat in some butter, lemon juice, capers (roughly chopped, if you like) and chopped parsley. Spoon the sauce over the chicken or mushrooms and serve.

Instead of the chicken or mushrooms, you can try this method with:

  • Swordfish
  • Sole fillet or other tender white fish
  • scallops
  • Liver
  • Thick slices of aubergine, salted and patted dry
  • Zucchini, cut into long planks
  • Cooked and drained giant beans (no dredging or baking required)

Dredging meat or fish in flour protects the product from overcooking and gives it an even golden brown color all around. Some cooks dip their chops or fillets in the egg first; others dip the still moist meat or fish in flour. I like to use mustard as a coating because it’s an easy way to add flavor and goes well with the capers. The mustard coating also means you can dip the meat or mushrooms in breadcrumbs instead of flour for a crispier appearance.

But using flour has another benefit: the flour left in the pan caramelizes, making the pan sauce both flavorful and thicker. I like to shorten the sauce until it covers the side of my spoon, but if you don’t, don’t let it reduce too much, or dilute it with more lemon juice, wine, or water.

Finally, I highly recommend chopping your capers before adding them to the sauce. This ensures that every bite has some of their tangy, invigorating acidity.

Chicken or Mushroom Piccata

  • If you go the mushroom route, big trumpets can make thick, meaty slices >> but clusters of oyster mushrooms work well too.
  • I love how fast chicken breast cutlets cook >> but feel free to try this with boneless, skinless or skinless chicken breasts. The thighs should be pounded to an almost even thickness; be careful as they tend to break into pieces. The tenders will take less time, so keep a close eye on them.
  • Love the mustard as a coating here. >> But many Italian recipes suggest that you can just dredge the moist cutlets in flour, so skip it if you like.
  • All-purpose flour is the preferred piccata coating in the Italian cookbooks I’ve consulted – although your family or favorite restaurant may make it different! >> Consider using breadcrumbs for a crispier crust.
  • No wine? >> Use more stock or water.
  • The butter adds richness and emulsifies nicely. >> Vegan butter or refined coconut oil might also work.
  • No more capers? >> Try chopped green olives or extra parsley.

NOTE: If you can’t find chops in your grocery store, make your own. Using two medium chicken breasts, about 12 ounces in total, cut horizontally through each breast so that the meat opens like a book; separate the halves. Trim any fat or tendons.

Serve your piccata with a salad, mashed potatoes, quinoa, pasta or risotto.

Do you want to save this recipe? Click the bookmark icon under the portion size at the top of this page then go to My Reading List in your washingtonpost.com user profile

Scale this recipe and get a printer-friendly desktop version here.

  • 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup Dijon or spicy brown mustard
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (can substitute breadcrumbs, tapioca starch, or chickpea flour)
  • 4 chicken breast chops (about 12 ounces total) (see NOTE), or 4 to 6 king oyster mushrooms (10 to 12 ounces), cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick chunks
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons capers in brine, drained, finely chopped if desired
  • fine salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided

Grate the lemon into a shallow bowl and stir in the mustard. Squeeze the lemon (you should have at least 1/4 cup of juice; if not, squeeze another lemon) and set aside to use in the sauce later. Place the flour in a separate shallow bowl. Add the chicken or mushroom pieces to the bowl with the mustard mixture and coat the pieces evenly with the mustard with one hand or tongs. Transfer the pieces to the flour and dredge until evenly coated.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, use tongs to transfer the coated chicken or mushroom pieces to the hot oil, with each piece falling away from you so hot oil doesn’t splash on you.

Bake until deep golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes; turn and cook on the other side until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. (Chicken should register 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Mushrooms are cooked through when golden brown on all sides.) Reduce heat to medium-low, place cooked chicken or mushrooms on a plate and keep warm.

Add the wine and stock to the pan and stir to combine all the browned bits. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook until mixture has reduced by about a quarter, about 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the reserved lemon juice, followed by the butter until a smooth sauce forms, about 2 minutes. Stir in the capers. Taste and add more lemon juice to taste, plus salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon parsley.

Transfer chicken or mushrooms to plates and top with 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup sauce per serving. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Per serving with chicken (1 cutlet and 2 tablespoons sauce), based on 4: Calories: 363; Total fat: 21 g; Saturated fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 56 mg; Sodium: 909mg; Carbohydrates: 18 g; Dietary fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 1 gram; Protein: 17 g.

Per serving with mushrooms (4 mushroom slices and 2 tablespoons sauce), based on 4: Calories: 338; Total fat: 20 g; Saturated fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 15mg; Sodium: 734 mg; Carbohydrates: 26 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; sugar: 2 g; Protein: 7 grams.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or nutritionist.

From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.

Tested by Kara Elder; e-mail questions to [email protected]

Scale this recipe and get a printer-friendly desktop version here.

Browse our Recipe Finder for over 9,700 back-tested recipes.

Did you make this recipe? Take a picture and tag us on Instagram with #appetizing.

Check out this week’s Eat Gluttonous recipes:

Monday: Spinach Skillet Lasagna

Tuesday: Spicy Minty Beef

Wednesday: Everything Salmon With Cucumber And Red Onion Salad