Pan sauces are wonderful and complex because the get flavor from the browned meat that sticks to the bottom of the pan. Learning to make pan sauces is a basic skill all cooks should learn. They have multiple applications. Use a 12" stainless steel frying pan. Stainless is better than non-stick because you want the pan to cause the meat juices to brown and stick to the pan, but not burn. These brown bits, called fond (which means roughly "base") by French chefs, will dissolve when we make the sauce and add to the flavor.
Classic Chicken Piccata Recipe
Pan sauces like the classic chicken piccata are wonderful and complex because the get flavor from the browned meat that sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Course. Lunch. Dinner. Entree.
Makes. 2 servings
Prep time. 30 minutes
Cooking time. 15 minutes
1 pound grilled chicken, pork, or veal
2 tablespoons flour
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cream sherry
3/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons lemon juice (about the juice of 1 medium lemon)
2 tablespoons brined capers, drained and rinsed
Make the meat even in thickness. One of the problems with chicken breasts is that they are thick at one end and thin at the other, so you usually overcook the thin end or undercook the thick end. We solve this problem by flattening the meat by pounding it. Another problem is that the skin is impervious and acts like a rubber boot to prevent flavor from getting to the meat. Here's how. Remove the chicken skin and trim off excess fat (I know, it hurts to do this, but it really pays off). Rinse the meat and dry with paper towels. There is often a flap of meat, sometimes called the tenderloin, on the underside of each breast. Remove it and set it aside. Pull out about 12" of plastic wrap or wax paper. Lay the meat slightly off center on the plastic wrap, fold the rest over the top, and pound it with a frying pan bottom until it is about 1/2" thick all over. Think of your boss while doing this. But don't get carried away. Pound the meat too flat, and it will be overcooked by the time it gets crispy, so get this right. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
Other meats. You can use veal, pork, or even turkey if you wish. Just slice it or pound it so it is about 1/2" thick.
1) Put the flour on a dinner plate, add the salt and pepper, mix, and spread it out on the surface. Lay each breast on the plate one at a time and coat it lightly with the flour on all sides by rolling it around in the white stuff.
2) Heat the pan a medium-high heat and then add the oil. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add the meat and let it cook for about 3 minutes until the bottoms start to turn GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious). Turn the meat over and cook about another 3 minutes until GBD. Remove the meat and put it in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate so it stays warm.
3) Add to the pan about 1 tablespoon of the flour left from when you coated the meat. Cook the flour about three minutes until the whiteness is gone. Add the wine and lemon juice. Cook the sauce, stirring and scraping the bits from the pan for 2 to 3 minutes until it starts to thicken and doesn't look cloudy. Add the capers and stir. Add the meat and cook another minute or two on each side just to warm it.
4) Move the meat to the serving plates, add the side dishes, and pour or spoon the sauce and capers over the meat. Garnish with fresh parsley and a lemon slice. If there's extra sauce, put it on the rice.