Sauces used to scare me, but they are NO big deal and they make bland things like chicken and pork come to life. One of the best dishes in the world is chicken or veal picatta. I mean how could you not like lemon, wine and butter?? I think I could drink it, with a loaf of bread to round out the meal, but still I think I could drink the stuff. There are a few tricks to making sauces and once you learn these tips you can play with ingredients.
First thing to remember when making a sauce is to start off with equal amounts of flour and fat (oil, butter, bacon fat, sausage fat…). Place equal amounts of flour and fat (typically 2-3 Tablespoons) into a pan or skillet and let the fat incorporate into the flour. The mixture will become a golden brown. This is also known as roux. Once you have your roux made that is where the creativity comes into play. You can add wine or chicken stock or beef stock or cream…..
Second thing to remember when making a sauce is to watch your heat. Many times if you are using low fat ingredients such as low fat milk or sour cream the sauce will “break” if it gets too hot. This means that the sauce will curdle. If this happens just dump it out and start over! And, keep in mind this happens to everyone once in a while. But, if you have created a fabulous sauce and the recipe calls for you to “mount with butter” this means to turn the heat OFF and then swirl a tablespoon or so of butter into the sauce. This will thicken the sauce and make it silky. This is the last step of a fabulous creation.
Ok, now that the serious cooking lesson is over, below is one of my family’s favorite dinners. They request it all the time and it is so easy. I serve it with buttered noodles and a salad or steamed veggie.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts- cut in half lengthwise (you can buy thin cut chicken in the grocery)
1/2 cup flour
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup capers, drained
1/3 cup parsley
1 lemon, thinly sliced
In a large skillet, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in oil over medium high heat.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Pour flour into shallow bowl. Dredge chicken pieces into flour, shaking off any excess.
Place flour coated chicken pieces into skillet. Brown on both sides, about 3 minutes a side. Remove to a plate.
Using the same skillet add onions, garlic and artichokes and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add wine to skillet and let reduce, about 3 minutes.
Stir in chicken broth and lemon juice. Let come to a boil and reduce until slightly thickened.
Turn off the heat and stir in remaining Tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is incorporated into sauce add in capers and lemon slices. Turn the heat back on to medium high and add chicken back to skillet and warm through.
Garnish with parsley.
* If it is too lemony then add a bit more chicken stock
* Serve with noodles or crusty bread