with Lemon Brown Butter, Parsley and Capers
Preparing a dish “à la minute”—or at the last minute—can be simple and complex at the same time. The key to success is to divide cooking tasks into those that can be done in advance and those that must be done immediately before serving the dish. When making chicken scaloppini, for instance, preparing the chicken breasts and assembling the rest of the ingredients ahead of time prevents scrambling around when it’s time to cook.
Chicken Scaloppini with Lemon Brown Butter, Parsley and Capers
Ingredients (4 servings)
• 4 large chicken breasts, about 5 to 6 ounces each
• Salt and pepper to taste
• ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
• ½ cup vegetable oil or clarified butter
• 4 tablespoons of cold butter
• ¼ cup of chicken broth or stock
• Juice of two lemons (about ¼ cup)
• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
• 2 tablespoons good-quality capers, drained of brine
Before beginning the “à la minute” cooking, assemble the rest of the ingredients, or “mise en place,” and the following cooking equipment to ensure that nothing is missing when the final steps are executed:
- A small pan holding ½ cup of the flour for dredging the chicken
- A sauté pan or fry pan (nonstick is not necessary)
- A dry, metal bowl for the spent cooking oil
- An oven-safe platter for the cooked chicken
- A wooden spoon or spatula for scraping the pan and stirring the sauce
- Two pair of tongs (one for handling raw chicken and another for the cooked chicken)
Unlike whole butter, clarified butter adds flavor without burning. Clarifying butter is a simple process that separates the fat—good for cooking at high temperatures—from the milk solids, which burn easily even at low temperatures.
To clarify 8 ounces of butter: Place cubed, unsalted butter in a small pot and bring to a low simmer. Allow the butter to bubble gently until all noise subsides and the bubbling stops, meaning the water has evaporated and only the separated fat and solids remain. Remove it from the heat and carefully pour the fat into a bowl, leaving browned solids behind. Clarified butter can be stored in the refrigerator for one to three weeks.
To Prepare the Chicken
To prepare the chicken breasts, slice each breast lengthwise on the bias to form long, wide slabs, about ½-inch thick. Arrange the chicken pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat tenderizer, gently pound the slabs of breast meat with the dimpled side to tenderize the meat, and then with the smooth side to spread it into an even sheet. The scaloppini should be no more than ¼-inch thick. Cover and store the scaloppini in the refrigerator. This step can be done up to one day ahead of time.
To Make the Scaloppini
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat the sauté pan over high heat. Meanwhile, season both sides of each chicken piece with salt and pepper, and then dredge the seasoned pieces in flour, shaking off the excess.
- Pour the cooking oil or clarified butter into the sauté pan. Put one piece of chicken in the pan. If it does not sizzle right away, then the pan is not hot enough; wait until the chicken is sizzling before adding another piece. Sear the chicken for about a minute on each side until golden brown.
- Once all of the chicken has been seared, transfer the cooked chicken to the platter and place in the oven.
- Discard the cooking oil or clarified butter from the sauté pan, pouring into a dry bowl. Place the pan back over the heat. Add the cold butter to the pan. Just when the butter melts completely, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and stir constantly over high heat; the mixture will turn brown in just a few minutes.
- When the mixture in the pan has browned nicely (be careful—it’s very hot), add the chicken broth and lemon juice, and then the parsley and capers. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Remove the platter from the oven and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve immediately.