Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Grilled Chicken Piccata

I love the intense flavor of chicken piccata - the briny taste of capers and the bright pop of citrus makes my taste buds dance.

Grilled chicken piccata with fire grilled tomatoes

Alexis and I went to dinner with our neighbors at Cappucino's here in Knoxville a few weeks ago.  I got Chef Frank Aloise's piccata, and it inspired me to fire up a batch at home.

The problem with grilled chicken piccata is that grilling doesn't give you the sucs (brown bits left if the pan) to make a good pan sauce, which is the base of piccata.  Here are a few workarounds for that.



  • Sautee the chicken in a skillet instead of grilling.  I cheated on this one.  I grilled the chicken for our piccata but needed to cook Ramsay a chicken breast for his dinner.  So I lightly floured his chicken breast and sauteed it in a skillet on the grill, leaving me with the golden sucs that I needed.  Yes, my dog gets fresh-cooked chicken every night.  
  • Sautee your trimmings.  If you have fat and weird bits of meat trimmed from your chicken breast, then when making the sauce, first add the butter and 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet.  Then cook the trimmings and discard them but save the fat and bits.  Now make your sauce.
  • Use a roux instead.  This is how I wrote up the recipe.  Use flour and butter to make a roux to kick off the flavor.  The grilled chicken and juices will flavor the sauce at the end instead.  

Grilled Chicken Piccata

www.nibblemethis.com
Published 3/9/2020

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons peanut, avocado, or other high temperature cooking oil, divided
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, butterflied and pounded to even thickness.
  • 4 teaspoons Meat Church Garlic and Herb Seasoning, divided
  • 2 lemons
  • 12 grape tomatoes variety
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1-2 ounces capers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • garnish:  finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill to 450°f.  Set it up for direct heat.  Today I was using a large Big Green Egg kamado grill with a stock grate.  I used Tennessee lump charcoal for my fuel, but feel free to use another heat source or add wood.
  2. Grill the lemon and tomatoes. Toss the tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 teaspoon of the garlic and herb seasoning.  Thread the tomatoes onto cocktail skewers and place the tomato skewers on the grill until slightly charred on one side.  Flip and repeat.  Remove from heat and keep warm.  Next, cut the lemons in half and put the lemons cut side down on the grates, until slightly browned.  Remove from heat.
  3. Cook the chicken.  Lightly oil the butterflied chicken breast and season on both sides with the remaining garlic and herb seasoning.  Place the chicken on the grill and grill to an internal temperature of 160°f, approximately 5-6 minutes per side.  Remove and keep warm.
  4. Make the sauce.  Preheat a cast-iron skillet for 5 minutes.  Reduce the grill heat.  For a kamado grill, just shut the lower vent to almost closed, but be sure to "burp" the grill when opening.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and then whisk in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Continuously whisking, slowly pour in the stock and juice from the 2 grilled lemons. Season the sauce with salt and white pepper.  Allow the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes.  
  5. Finish the dish.  Make a slurry by whisking corn starch and cold water together.  Whisk the slurry into the sauce and add capers to the sauce.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of cold butter.  Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the sauce.  Allow the sauce to simmer until thickened, another 3-5 minutes.  Taste sauce for seasoning and adjust as desired, but it should be pretty close.
  6. Serve.  Place pasta on a plate and top with a piece of chicken.  Drizzle a spoonful of the sauce over the chicken and pasta.  Add a skewer of the tomatoes. Garnish with parsley and a lemon wedge.
Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 0 hrs. 30 mins.
Cook time: 02 hrs. 25 mins.
Total time: 0 hrs. 55 mins.
Tags: grilling, chicken, Italian


Notes/Substitutions

  • Meat Church Garlic and Herb Seasoning - Matt created a good all-purpose kitchen seasoning with this one.  You can order it online, but if you can't wait, you can season your chicken with garlic salt and Italian seasoning.  
  • White pepper - This is mostly for appearance's sake, although white pepper does have different heat and taste.  But you will be fine using finely ground black pepper instead, on this recipe. 
I use whiteboards in the kitchen to make shopping lists, task lists, and create recipes.
I am a whiteboard addict in the kitchen.  I use it to make shopping lists, task lists, and create recipes.  Typically, I imagine a recipe and write up what I think is going to work.  I wrote what is pictured before I ever started to cook.  Then as I cook and add this or that, I update the whiteboard. When I'm done, I write this up in Evernote so I can access it from anywhere.

Mise en place for making grilled chicken piccata
Mess in place (mise en place) always!

Mini tomato bar at Food City #694
You can use grape tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes.  We have liked the little variety tomato bar that our local Food City has had this spring.  A mix of colors and shapes makes dishes more eye-catching.


Meat Church Garlic and Herb seasoning is tasty in soups, stews, roasts, garlic bread, shellfish and chicken
Meat Church Garlic and Herb Seasoning is a fantastic all-purpose seasoning to have in the kitchen.  I add it to soups, stews, roasts, garlic bread, shellfish, and chicken.

Tomatoes and lemons grilling on GrillGrates
For the lemons and tomatoes, go mostly by visual cues, not time.  You want just a bit of char on the tomatoes for flavor but not so much that the tomatoes cook through and become mushy.  For the lemons, get them with deep grill marks but not burned.


Cooking the tomatoes adds flavor and makes the dish look more interesting.  Grilling the lemons intensifies the taste, a trick I learned at Kingsford University back in the day.  Try it this Summer when you make fresh lemonade.

Butterflied chicken breast cooked on the Big Green Egg on a set of GrillGrates
Butterflying the chicken breast makes them cook more quickly and more evenly.  I also think it just looks better.  I cooked these on a large Big Green Egg with a set of GrillGrates.

Lodge cast iron skillet on a Big Green Egg grill
Cooking Ramsay's chicken in the skillet gives me the tasty bits that I need to make a delicious pan sauce.  This 10-inch Lodge is my go-to skillet for grilling.  It's basic, durable, and gets the job done.

I use a wooden spoon with a flat edge for scraping the sucs off of the skillet.  You want the sauce simmering not boiling, so reduce your grill temperature after preheating the skillet.  Wear heavy-duty heat-resistant gloves for handling the skillet.  If the simmering gets too much, just lift the skillet out of the heat for a minute.

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet full of chicken piccata on a Big Green Egg
Putting the chicken back in the sauce to braise keeps the chicken juicy while at the same time, flavoring the sauce.

Grilled chicken piccata simmering in cast iron on a Big Green Egg kamado grill.
Sooooo good and tasty!  

How to grill chicken piccata on a Big Green Egg kamado grill.
Grilled Chicken Piccata - juicy, briny, and brightly flavored.

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