NFL preseason is over. You still think your fantasy football team has a shot. College football is in full swing.
All that can only mean one thing: chili season is here!
I subsist on beans and carbs. This diet may contribute to the hula hoop of personal space my friends often give me and the stares I receive on public transit. No one knows when my next narcoleptic episode will strike.
Chicken Piccata can seem a daunting dish to new cooks. There are a few steps that may be new to you. Butterflying. Dredging. Searing. Deglazing. But those are just words. Hopefully, this walkthrough removes the fear and helps you unlock some advanced skills to add to your arsenal. Worst case scenario: you burn the food and end up going out for pizza. Sounds like either way you win.
If you’ve never had chicken piccata, it’s a breaded piece of chicken that’s lightly fried. Then the sauce is a rich, thick mix of garlic, lemon, white wine and capers. There are some extra ingredients most recipes call for. They are nice to haves, but not essential. I always hated buying new ingredients for a new dish that now sit in a cabinet.
The key to executing this dish well is prepping your ingredients before your start frying the chicken. As you get more comfortable, you can condense some steps and multi-task. I start heating my pan on low heat before cutting and breading the chicken. If you’ve never made chicken this way, focus on doing one thing at a time. I am fortunate to have a stellar sous chef who assists me with chopping. If you have a friend or date, a lot of meal prep can be done together. This dish is great because we made asparagus as the side dish. So my girlfriend prepped that while I focused on the main dish.
Prep Steps for Chicken Piccata
Depending the size of your chicken breasts, you may need to trim them to a more manageable size. The purpose for this is even cooking and to expedite the nom nom in your mouth. If the chicken is too thick (more than 3/4 inch), it will take longer to cook to temperature (aiming for 165). So what are you going to do if your hormone-filled bird is too big? Place the chicken breast on your cutting board, then, press your flat palm down on the chicken. With a sharp chef’s knife in your other hand, run the knife parallel to the cutting board halfway up the height of the chicken. This will create two thinner fillets of chicken.
Want to skip this step? Cool. To best cook the chicken without burning it on the stove, use an oven-safe pan. After your fry the chicken, pop the pan into a 350 degree oven. Let the chicken cook for 20ish minutes.
The rest of the steps are pretty straight forward.
The asparagus dish was really good and pretty quick. Again, for new cooks it can seem tough and there are pitfalls to boiling the eggs (optional, but tasty addition) and creating the vinaigrette. If you missed the recipe earlier this week, head over here for the full instructions.
Butterfly the chicken breasts if greater than 3/4 inch thick.
Mix flour, salt and pepper in a big dinner plate.
Beat one egg in a shallow bowl.
Dip chicken into egg. Turn to coat the other side.
Place chicken into flour mixture. Press chicken evenly to coat the entire side. Flip chicken to coat the other side. Shake excess flour off chicken and set aside. Repeat for remaining breasts.
Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat. Allow 3-5 minutes. Then add olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add chicken to the pan. You should hear a distinct "TISSS" sizzle.
Leave the chicken alone for about 5 minutes. Then flip and do the same. Be sure not to crowd the pan. To best crisp the chicken, it needs room in the pan. I used a 12-inch pan and worked in two batches.
Add garlic as the chicken nears completion (about 15 minutes in)
You can finish the chicken in the oven. The breasts need to reach 165 degrees. Either way, once the chicken is done, set aside on a clean plate or platter.
In the pan you cooked the chicken, add mushrooms and shallot (or onion). Cook for 3-5 minutes/until mushrooms and shallot soften.
Add white wine, lemon juice, capers and chicken stock. If you splurged on fresh thyme, add it now. Scrape the bottom of the pain as the liquids bubble up.
Continue cooking the sauce over medium heat. The sauce will eventually thicken. Continue intermittently scraping the bottom of the pan.
Once the sauce is thick, plate the chicken and spoon over the sauce.
The only times I have eaten asparagus have been in a restaurant. That all changed this weekend when I found this simple, yet gourmet recipe on NYTimes Cooking app. Looking back, my ratios were different. My sauce came out heavily dijon since I didn’t add as much olive oil.
Asparagus doesn’t have a ton of flavor, so pairing it with soft-boiled eggs and a dijon vinaigrette make the healthy trees extremely tasty.
We used this side dish to complement chicken piccata. Check back later this week for that recipe.
We are nearly a week and a day out from the showdown of showdowns. The stakes are higher than ever. I am putting my best taco against offerings from home cooks in Chicago to see if years of visits to taqueria’s were worth it. This will be my third attempt in a cooking competition, but this time I have a different strategy on how to win.
Here is the approach I’ll be going with next Sunday. Having eaten my way through most cities, these barbacoa tacos stand up to my favorite taqueria’s tacos. They have a nice amount of heat, moist and tender meat.
The secret to keeping the meat moist is all in the braise, especially for barbacoa. I used most of a 16 oz bottle of Sapporo Premium (a few ounces for myself). Cooking with alcohol is a pro tip to add flavor complexity to whatever you’re making, whether a sauce or a braise. The booze cooks out and imparts its own zip to a dish. Plus, you might as well sample some before putting it in the pot. I have their Reserve beer set aside to take this dish to the next level.
If I don’t win, I will forego eating tacos for an entire month.
If you’re in the Chicago area on April 19, come see if my barbacoa has what it takes to be the best. My stomach and pride depend on it.
You got the time? I got the recipe for you for barbacoa that may top your favorite taqueria.
Mix all the spices in a bowl for the spice rub with a fork. These are the approximate increments I used.
Generously rub the pork shoulder with the spice rub. Ideally, do this overnight to let the flavors penetrate the meat. I didn't plan ahead and did this day of. The flavors were still sensational.
Whether you let the spice rub sit over night in the fridge or for 15 minutes, let the pork get closer to room temp before searing.
Heat dutch oven on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add olive oil in dutch oven.
Add 1/8 tsp chile de arbol peppers to the oil (15-20 seconds).
Add onions to dutch oven. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add chopped chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Stir.
Add spice-rubbed pork shoulder to dutch oven.
Sear on all 4-6 sides.
Pour in beer, scraping up fawn on the bottom of the pot. Add water.
Bring to a simmer, cover and place into 325 degree oven for 3-4 hours. The meat will get to the desired temperature in this span of time, so you are really looking for the meat to be fall apart tender.
Let the meat rest for 10-20 minutes. Then, with two forks, start pulling apart the meat. Pork shoulder is fatty. Most of the fat will have melted away. Discard the remaining fatty chunks.