Notes: “My mother went on a cooking spree around 1983 to 1986. It was a brief spell of subscriptions to Bon Appetit and Gourmet, with a sudden interest in nice cookware, better ingredients and a dedication to sustenance that had never really been a high priority in our household,” Hugh Acheson said. “I don’t know if it was a midlife crisis or a reaction to something else, but we suddenly found ourselves eating well. My favorite dish, due to my palate’s love of acid, was the Chicken Piccata she would make, usually accompanied by simply roasted potatoes and asparagus. It still hangs in my mind as the dish I would long for and revel in.”
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied to ½-inch-thick scallopini
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ cup Wondra (instant) flour
1 medium shallot, peeled and minced
4 leaves fresh sage, torn into small pieces
8 lemon slices, 1/8 inch thick
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1½ tablespoons brined capers, drained, rinsed and lightly chopped
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
Ground black pepper
Arrange 2-foot length of waxed paper on the counter and drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil on it. Arrange the chicken scallopini on the waxed paper, leaving at least 3 inches between them. Set a second sheet of waxed paper over the chicken.
Using the flat side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin, gently pound the chicken to a uniform ¼-inch thickness. Season the chicken with ¾ teaspoon of the salt.
Heat a large stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat.
While the pan heats, place the Wondra flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Dredge each piece of chicken through the Wondra flour, coating both sides and shaking off any excess.
Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet, then add the chicken, working in batches if necessary. Cook for 3 minutes per side, or until golden and just cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan to a platter. Lower the heat to medium.
Add the shallot, sage and the lemon slices to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, then add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the stock, lemon juice, capers and parsley. Simmer for 2 minutes, then whisk in the cold butter. Season with salt, if necessary, but capers have a saline brine, so taste first.
Add some black pepper, then pour the pan sauce over the chicken.
Nutrition information per serving: 360 calories; 180 calories from fat (50 percent of total calories); 21g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 80 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrate; 28 g protein; 1 g fiber; 690 mg sodium.
Recipe by Hugh Acheson