I’ve been trying to eat a little healthier lately, so it’s typical that now is when I would have a crazy week-long craving for chicken piccata. As much as I would like it to, chicken piccata doesn’t really fall into the “healthy” category. In fact, Piccata literally translates in Italian to “larded”. How am I going to turn a pan-fried, smothered in a lemon butter sauce chicken dish into something equally delicious and satisfying, that won’t go straight to my hips? First, let’s start with the obvious offender, the breaded pan-fried chicken. Instead of breading and frying the chicken, I’ve opted to grill it. Next, the butter piccata sauce, while using a full butter sauce like the Italian’s do, does sounds delicious, I’m reducing the butter by half and bumping up the flavor by grilling my lemons, adding robust aromatics, chicken broth, cheap dry white wine, and of course, lots of capers.
I’m hoping to have reduced the “larded” effect of this dish by at least half. I guess it’s not really a piccata anymore, and really more a lemon-caper sauce on grilled chicken, but let’s do the math to just to see where we are at. Normal Piccata tips the scales at 33 grams of fat, 563 calories, and 18 carbs; versus my grilled version at 15 grams of fat, 337 calories, and 7 carbs. Not too shabby, that saves me like 300 situps at the gym. Right?!
I am sure you all have cooked a chicken breast a million times, I don’t need to walk you step-by-step through it, but here are a few easy tips for grilling the perfect juicy chicken breast.
- First prep your breast for grilling. Pound your chicken breast to even out the thickness. I’m not suggesting you pound it as flat as you would if you were making a chicken cutlet, but thin out the fat side- making a consistent thickness in the breast will speed up the cooking time, and ensure you a more evenly cooked chicken. Place the chicken in between two pieces of plastic wrap, using a heavy glass, like a tumbler or high ball, gently pound your chicken breast with the bottom of the glass.
- Season the breast with salt before placing it on the grill, both sides.
- Heat the grill to around 375 degrees on medium, you don’t want the grill to be too hot.
- Once you have placed the chicken onto the grates, leave it alone. I mean it, don’t touch it. I know you want to flip flop that bird, but don’t. Close the hood of the grill, walk away and do not open it for at least 5 minutes. When you do check on the chicken, don’t flip it until you can see that the white cooked portion of the chicken is at least half way up the side of the breast before you flip it.
- When you think the breast is done, use a meat thermometer, pull your chicken when the internal temp reaches 160 degrees.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes, the temp will rise during that time to 165 degrees (the FDA recommended temp) and the chicken will be perfectly moist.
While you are grilling the chicken, prepare the lemons for the “piccata” sauce. Grill the lemon halves for 3-4 minutes each, cut side down. There is no need to oil the lemons, they have their own oil. Grilling the lemons will enhance and deepen the flavor and also help in releasing the juice from the lemons, plus they look really cool charred.
To create the lightened piccata sauce, melt the butter in a thick bottom pan, add the diced shallot and garlic. I know I forgot the shallot in the picture above- my bad. Saute them until they are translucent. Next, add the flour and whisk until combined. Allow the roux to cook for 30 seconds to a minute, you don’t want a lot of color on the mixture. Next, add the chicken broth and the dry white wine, whisk some more. Once that is combined, squeeze in the lemon juice, add the honey, capers, and the chopped parsley. While whisking, allow the sauce to come to a boil and thicken, then shut off the flame.
Serve the chicken with your choice of sides, I am using grilled asparagus and tomatoes, along with a little side of angel hair pasta. I did grill the chicken after all! Top the chicken and pasta with the sauce and serve with the extra grilled lemons on the side for additional juiciness.
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 3 Lemons
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Flour
- 3/4 Cup Dry White Wine
- 3/4 Cup Chicken Broth
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- 2 Tablespoons Parsely
- 4 Tablespoons Capers
- 1 Shallot, minced
- 1 Garlic Clove, minced
- Pound 4 chicken breasts to consistant thickness.
- Salt chicken breasts on each side.
- Grill on medium until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy bottom sauce pan.
- Add minced garlic and shallots to the butter, saute until translucent.
- Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour and whisk until combined.
- Cook the roux for 30 seconds to a minute. Do not let it brown.
- Add 3/4 cup of chicken broth and 3/4 cup of wine and whisk till smooth.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice, add the honey, capers and the chopped parsley.
- While continually whisking, allow the sauce to come to a boil and thicken.
- Shut off the flame.
- Top chicken and choice of vegetable and or pasta with sauce. I prefer angel hair pasta with this pairing.