Chicken Piccata or How to Pan-Fry Chicken Breasts

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This is a great, basic recipe that will teach you a terrific fundamental – how to pan-fry breaded chicken breast cutlets. My friend Chef John demonstrates the technique in the video above. If you’re using smaller breasts, you don’t necessarily need to pound them thin. You can also slice the chicken breast in half horizontally if they’re quite large. You can use the bottom of a small saucepan to do the pounding, at least, that what’s we do in our house. I also add some thyme or poultry seasoning to the chicken when I’m seasoning it, a variation from the video. For a more intense caper taste, you can mince about a third of the capers before adding. 

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut or pounded in about 1/2 inch thick
Cayenne to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Poultry seasoning (about 1/4 teaspoon) 
Coarse salt, fresh ground pepper
All-purpose flour for dredging
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel 
1/4 cup water or chicken stock
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/4-in slices
2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped 

Start by prepping the chicken. Your goal is to get thin, flat slices of chicken that will cook quickly and evenly. Traditionally, you put the breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them flat. (The bottom of a small pan works well if you don’t have a meat pounder – which I don’t.) Or, you can slice them horizontally so that you cut the thickness in half. If it’s still a little too thick in places, pound them out a bit more.

Liberally season both sides of the chicken with salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne and poultry seasoning or dried thyme. Put a bit of flour on a plate and coat each side of the chicken lightly.

Cook on each side for about four or five minutes. Remove to a fresh plate.

Put the pan back on the heat. Add the capers. With a fork, mash about half of them. This will increase the intensity of the sauce as the juice from the capers is released. Then add the white wine. Let it reduce by half, about three minutes. Then add the lemon juice, grated peel, a bit of water and the cold butter. Keep stirring and shaking the pan. Turn the heat down to low. Once the butter has melted and the sauce takes on a lovely sheen, add the fresh parsley and stir through. Then, return the cooked breasts to the pan to coat them in the sauce and heat them through. 


About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" and "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good." All are published by Viking/Penguin.


  1. robert lipton says:

    best picatta recipe … also can use pan frying for blackening

  2. This was great. Really easy and flavorful. Thank you!!

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