Chicken Piccata

I really want someone to design a cookbook that enables you to use ALL of a particular ingredient before it goes bad. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of chicken stock, but you can't find an 8-ounce carton of it, then along with that recipe would be a list of other recipes within that book that you could make later in the week to use your remaining chicken stock.

Buttermilk is another big one. I'm always buying a quart of buttermilk because I can't find it sold as a pint, so I'll make whatever recipe calls for it, and then some buttermilk pancakes the next day, but I'll still have tons of buttermilk left. I want a cookbook that instructs me to use the exact amount of remaining buttermilk in another recipe. I'm always wasting too much. (If such a thing already exists, please let me know!)

After I made the chicken in light lemon-herb sauce I recently posted about, I had leftover chicken stock, and I went on my usual internal rampage about not wanting to waste it. Because my use-up-leftover-ingredients cookbook does not exist (to my knowledge), I went on a couple of food sites and tried searching by ingredient for chicken stock. I found a recipe for chicken piccata on Cookstr.com that called for 1 cup of chicken stock. This wouldn't finish it off, but at least I'd be wasting less of it. (I know I could always freeze the leftover stock, but I don't tend to think of that until it's too late because I always think I'll find some way to use it up.)

At any rate, I'm glad my search brought me to this recipe. I love chicken piccata and hadn't made it in a while. As chicken piccata should, this dish had a nice lemon flavor, and the chicken stayed very moist.

Chicken Piccata (from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home via Cookstr.com)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken stock preferably homemade
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon drained bottled capers, rinsed and chopped
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Thin slices lemon and chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Sprinkle a small amount of water on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Place 2 of the breast halves on top of the plastic and sprinkle again with water. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until about ¼ inch thick. Repeat with the remaining 2 breast halves.

Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a shallow pie plate. Heat half the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Working in 2 batches, place the chicken in the flour mixture and turn to coat on all sides. Shake off the excess flour and add to the skillet. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate or platter and cover loosely with foil. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken.

Pour off the fat from the skillet and return the skillet to the heat. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring to pick up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer, turning often, until warmed through and the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and the capers. Season with salt and pepper and heat just until the butter has melted. Serve on warmed plates with a spoonful of the skillet sauce, topped with lemon slices and parsley.

I served this with a little angel hair pasta and some cheesy garlic bread.

For quick garlic bread, take a loaf of Italian bread or any rolls you have lying around, slice them in half, and place them in a 350-degree oven to get toasty. In the meantime, add some olive oil, butter, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to a skillet. Saute until garlic starts to brown. Pour this mixture over the toasted bread, top with shredded mozzarella, turn on the broiler, and pop the whole thing back in the oven until cheese is melty and bubbly. (If you want to get fancy, add sauteed onions, black olives, and diced tomatoes before topping with the mozzarella.)

What do you do with your leftover ingredients?