Tender chicken coated in buttery, bright lemon and salty capers served over a bed of creamy asparagus risotto laced with bites of crisp pancetta. Chicken Piccata is the perfect date night meal, a step up without being overly complicated!
You guys...if you want to make a plate that says, "I truly love you, here is how much in food form on a plate." This is what you make. Well, at least in our house it is.
My husband and I met working at an Italian restaurant and this recipe is a tribute to the chicken piccata with asparagus risotto they served. There's just something about that zippy lemon, rich sauce, pop of the capers, and oh, so tender chicken that is borderline addicting.
And the risotto! Ugh, risotto is just nothing but love. Creamy, comforting, and totally customizable. This risotto is sautéed with crisp pancetta and tender asparagus. Gotta get those veggies in, right?
how to make chicken piccata
If you're making this recipe in it's entirety - the chicken piccata and the risotto - get ready for a restaurant quality meal in the comfort of your own home.
Also, get mentally ready because there are a few moving parts to this. We're going to start the risotto first and stop just before it's finished in order to cook the chicken piccata. As soon as the chicken and sauce are done, we will finish the risotto quickly so that both the chicken and the risotto are absolutely perfect.
It's truly not challenging to make, it just requires a little more time management than cooking pasta and a simple sauce. If you're looking to simplify, risotto can technically be made in the oven like this pumpkin risotto or the instant pot (just note, those links are for recipes that will make larger portions than the stovetop version in this recipe).
Personally, I don't love risotto in the oven or pressure cooker because it just doesn't build up that natural creaminess from the continual stirring and slow addition of chicken stock. It's always delicious, I'm just a traditionalist when it comes to my Italian rice. You do you.
For a quick fix that satisfies that lemony chicken craving check out this sheet pan chicken piccata. It's not 100% the same but it is a gluten-free and 'set it and forget it' method.
What is piccata sauce?
Besides absolutely divine? Piccata sauce is a rich, buttery, velvety sauce with lots of lemon flavor and the perfect briney, salty flavor of capers sprinkled throughout.
The flour dredged chicken cooks in butter then the lemon and more butter is added to the same pan to cook the sauce. The flour naturally thickens the sauce as it cooks, creating that rich coating.
What are capers?
Strange little things, right? I love capers. The texture is the coolest snap, especially in this dish because a lot of the parts are creamy and soft.
Capers are technically the pickled bud of the caperberry bush. They taste slightly briny, with a crisp pop in texture making them perfect to balance the richness of the sauce.
Tips for making perfect piccata
Don't burn the butter! Most restaurants used clarified butter for cooking piccata to avoid the chance the fat solids in the butter will burn. This way they can cook at a higher temperature.
You can either use clarified butter by heating the butter and removing the fat solids that settle on the bottom once its melted or just keep the heat at medium. I prefer to keep the fat solids in the dish because they get slightly browned adding delicious flavor.
Whisk in the lemon and remaining butter so you can scrape any flour off the bottom of the pan and incorporate into the sauce.
Use white pepper - but sparingly! White pepper will not only blend into the sauce better but has a slightly different taste than black pepper. However, it is strong in flavor so add it and taste before deciding to add more.
If the sauce separates, heat it over medium-low heat while stirring to get it to come back together. You could also whisk in a pinch of extra flour.
Serve alongside pancetta and asparagus risotto, parmesan risotto, roasted potatoes and carrots, or homemade pasta! No matter the pairing, this will surely be a meal cooked from the heart and served with lots of love!
Did you make this recipe? Let me know in the comments below! I'd love to know your favorite part and tag me on social so I can see your beautiful dishes!
Date Night Chicken Piccata with Risotto
- 1 pound chicken breast (cut in 6 to 8 thin slices)
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup unsalted butter (divided)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon capers
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- a pinch of white pepper (less than ⅛ teaspoon)
Pancetta Asparagus Risotto
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 ounce pancetta (finely chopped)
- ½ cup aborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 ½ cups chicken stock (warm)
- ½ pound or 1 small bunch asparagus (trimmed and chopped)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)
- 2 tablespoon butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- Prep the chicken. Slice the chicken breast into 6 to 8 thin medallions. Lightly pound until about ½ inch thick and set aside.
- Start the risotto. In a heavy bottom skillet, cook the pancetta over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the rice, letting it absorb the fat in the pan, and season with salt and white pepper. Deglaze with white wine and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Stir in chicken stock. Once all the wine is absorbed add ½ cup of chicken stock to the rice, stir frequently until all the liquid is absorbed before adding another ½ cup of stock, this should take about 10 minutes before all the stock is absorbed. Repeat the process a total of 4 times, and reserve ½ cup of stock to finish the risotto after the chicken cooks.
- Cook the asparagus. On the 4th addition of chicken stock, add the asparagus. Once the liquid is almost all the way absorbed, cover and remove from the heat. The heat and steam will cook the asparagus.
- Cook the chicken. Dredge the chicken in flour on both sides. In a large heavy bottom skillet, melt the 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Cook the chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and reduce the heat to low.
- Make the piccata sauce. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in the pan. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the lemon, salt, and pepper. When the sauce starts to thicken and bubble, add the chicken back to the pan. Sprinkle the capers over the chicken and toss with the sauce to combine. Layer pieces of the chicken on a plate and cover with any extra sauce and capers. (The chicken piccata can also be held in the pan until the risotto is finished.)
- Finish the risotto. Heat the risotto over high heat. Add in the final ½ cup of warm chicken stock, lemon juice, butter, and parmesan chicken. Stir continuously until the final ingredients are combined and the risotto is thick and creamy. Because the heat is high, this step should only take 1 or 2 minutes. Serve alongside the chicken piccata.
- The pancetta can be left out of the risotto. A little extra seasoning of salt might be needed.
- Don't burn the butter! Watch the heat while cooking the chicken, if the fat solids in the butter are starting to brown before the chicken is turned, reduce heat to low and cook at a lower temperature. Alternatively, you can use clarified butter and cook at a higher temperature.