Leave a Message at the SQUAWK {chicken piccatta}

When I was about 10 years old, I spent a couple weeks with my cousin at their family’s lake house in Canada. He and I are very similar – in fact, my friends that have met him call him the “male Molly.” (Sorry, P). We would have so much fun – our days would be spent creating tiny parachutes out of twine, tissue paper and pieces of wood, feeding the chippies peanuts on the front steps, tipping over canoes and filming squirrels-eye view home movies.

This particular trip came about just as Vanilla Ice’s “To the Extreme” was really popular. We weren’t just fair-weather fans of “Ice Ice Baby” though, we really celebrated Ice’s entire catalogue, specifically the tune, “Hooked.” In a perfect storm of weirdness, during this time I also was really obsessed with the word chicken. Everything was chicken – it just rolled off the tongue and was really the ideal word to use at any time. (Stay with me here, this is all true and will end soon). So, as we were playing mini-pool in the den, we would rap along to Hooked, using our own words:

“Here’s a story ’bout my homeboy Randy, he was hooked on this chicken named Candy… calls every day, on the phone, chicken’s playing games, leave a message at the SQUAWK.”

For some reason we thought this was hilarious AND, for some other reason, I still sing this. (We also had a “dance”/”sign language” to the Land-O-Lakes butter commercial from the late 1990’s but that’s for another time). It popped into my head last night as I was making Chicken Piccatta (so did the tune Hakuna Matata because it just works so well with “A-Chicken Piccatta” subbed in) and I thought that I should share.

Now that you have journeyed with me to the depths of my brain and gotten a glimpse of what preoccupies me on the daily, I invite you to come along for some Chicken Piccatta at your leisure (pronounced leh-zur). Here’s the low-down.

You’ll need the following to make dinner for two (can be stretched to four with enough sides):

  • 2 boneless, skinless, soulless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • side items of your choosing (brown and wild rice and broccolini are my choices)

This is a fun recipe because you get to pound some meat which I find to be only slightly more stress-relieving than heaving an entire cup of coffee across the DMV parking lot. As such, let’s pound:

Until each breast is about 1/2″ thick and looks like this:

Before you set up the breading station, go ahead and preheat your oven to 275°F. Thanks. NOW you can do the breading station. Grab three dishes to serve as receptacles for flour, egg and breadcrumbs. In that order. You’ll want to season the chicken with salt and pepper and season your flour and breadcrumbs the same way. Flavor = happiness.

Before you get chicken goo, flour, egg and breadcrumbs all over your hands, you’ll want your pan to be ready to go so you can plop the breaded chicken right in there when it’s coated. Grab a large skillet and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat – say 6 or 7 on the ole dial. Now for the three-part breading scenario – flour to egg to breadcrumbs to pan. “People” say you should do the wet stuff with one hand and the dry with the other but I end up with coated fingers no matter what so just do what makes you happy. Tongs help too.

Good. Now brown the chicken on both sides, flipping carefully so the tasty crust you’ve made doesn’t slide off like a delicious crispy sock. (I am so talented at creating the finest, most appropriate similes and metaphors).  Once you’ve done that, put the browned chicken on a sheet pan with a rack on it so the chicken stays crispidy-crunchidy and pop that in your preheated oven while the rest of dinner comes together.

Now for the sauce. Once you pull the chicken out of the pan, wipe it down (the pan, not the chicken… which reminds me of another story I’ll have to tell you sometime) and pump the heat up to almost-high. Now add in the wine, lemon juice, capers and let the mixture boil for a couple minutes until reduced by half. Then pull the sauce off the stove and add 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce off the heat to finish it. Season with salt and pepper.

At this point, I know you’ve coordinated the timely conclusion of the preparation of your side-items. Plate everything up and spoon the tangy sauce over your chicken and devour.

Mmmm… SQUAWK. (Now THAT makes me think of Hansen).