[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]
Chicken piccata takes a beloved food—pan-fried chicken cutlets—and tops it with a simple but luxurious lemon-butter pan sauce. The result is a flavor and texture festival that blends crispness, juiciness, richness, and tartness all into one.
Why It Works
- Japanese panko bread crumbs form a coating that becomes shatteringly crisp but still light and tender, not dense and tough.
- The pan sauce whips up quickly after frying, so the cutlets don’t have to wait long.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces; 140g)
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs (4 ounces; 115g), roughly crushed by hand if very large
- 2 ounces (60g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (3 or 4 ounces each), pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (120ml)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers (15g)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (70g)
- 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon (30ml)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
Set three wide, shallow bowls on a work surface. Add flour to the first one, beaten eggs to the second, and panko and Parmesan cheese to the third. Mix panko and Parmesan thoroughly.
Line a rimmed baking dish with parchment paper. Season chicken cutlets all over with salt and pepper. Working with one at a time, dredge a cutlet in flour with your left hand, shaking off excess. Transfer to egg dish, then turn cutlet with your right hand to coat both sides. Lift and allow excess egg to drain off, then transfer to bread crumb mixture. With your left hand, scoop bread crumbs on top of chicken, then gently press, turning chicken to ensure a good layer of crumbs on both sides. Transfer cutlet to prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining cutlets.
Fill a large skillet with 1/4 inch oil. Heat over high heat until shimmering and just shy of smoking, about 375°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Working in batches and using tongs or your fingers, gently lower cutlets into the pan, laying them down away from you to prevent hot fat from splashing toward you. Fry, gently swirling pan and rotating cutlets for even browning, and adjusting heat as necessary for a steady, vigorous bubble, until bottom side is browned and crisp, about three minutes. Flip cutlets and fry until other side is browned and crisp, about three minutes longer. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt right away. Repeat with remaining cutlets, topping up oil if necessary.
Drain all but one tablespoon oil from skillet. Add wine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cooking until raw alcohol smell has mostly cooked off, about two minutes. Add capers and butter, whisking constantly, until butter has melted. Lower heat to medium and continue whisking and reducing until a creamy, emulsified sauce forms (the time this takes will depend on your burner power and the size of your pan). If sauce over-reduces and breaks at any point, add one tablespoon cold water and whisk to emulsify it again. Whisk in lemon juice and parsley, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
Arrange cutlets on a platter and drizzle warm butter sauce all over. Serve right away.
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