Chicken Piccata is one of my very favorite things to order from an Italian restaurant. Piccata actually refers to a method of cooking where something is sauteed in a sauce of butter, lemon juice and capers. In Italy, veal and fish are most often cooked in the piccata style, but chicken seems to be the popular choice in the United States. Whatever you choose, this dish is delicious and the impressive way it looks on a plate belies how simple it actually is to make.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper, to taste
all purpose flour, for dredging
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup dry white wine (I like Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. capers, drained (or rinsed well if using capers cured in salt)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, optional
Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally.
Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4-inch thickness.
Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
Dredge chicken in flour until well-coated, shaking off excess flour.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter together over medium-high heat.
Add chicken breasts and cook until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer cooked chicken to a plate.
In the same pan where you browned the chicken, add lemon juice, wine, and broth, and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
Stir in capers, then return the chicken to the pan, including any juices that might have leaked out onto the plate.
Continue to cook for another 4 or 5 minutes till the sauce reduces and thickens a little bit.
Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.
NOTE: Instead of half white wine and half chicken broth, you can make the sauce with just chicken broth or just wine. But don’t leave out the lemon juice. It’s a must!
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of the most delicious pasta dishes the Italians make. With just four main ingredients, it’s a breeze to prepare. People worry about having raw eggs in the sauce, though I think the eggs cook with the heat from the spaghetti.I’ve never had a problem, but if you’re really concerned, you could use pasteurized eggs or omit the eggs altogether.
Traditionally, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is made with guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian bacon made from pork cheeks or jowls. It’s delicious, but unfortunately, I can’t get guanciale where I live. Thankfully, you can substitute bacon or pancetta. Half a pound of bacon is good for a pound of pasta, but my family likes lots of bacon so I use a whole pound. I never have leftovers when I make this dish.
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA
1 lb. spaghetti noodles (can also use fettucine or linguine)
1 lb. bacon (or pancetta or guanciale), sliced into ½-inch strips
½ small onion, diced
3 large eggs
1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt, plus extra for the boiling water
¼ tsp. pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, set another large pot over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy; then remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
In the same pot, sauté the onions in the bacon grease until the onions become translucent; remove the pot from the heat and add the bacon back in.
When the water in the first pot is boiling briskly, add the spaghetti and boil until al dente.
While the spaghetti is boiling, prepare the sauce. It’s important to make the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the noodles will be hot when the sauce is done. The heat from the noodles is what cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
To make the sauce, beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork; then stir in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
Drain the cooked pasta well, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
Slowly drizzle the reserved hot pasta water into the egg mixture, mixing well. This tempers the eggs, so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs in your pasta.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pot with the bacon and onions.
Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss all together until the noodles are well-coated with the sauce and the cheese is melted.
Taste the spaghetti and adjust the seasonings. Depending on the pork you used, you may need to add more salt.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday again. I saw Valerie Bertinelli make Italian Beef sandwiches on TV last week and decided that that’s what I wanted to do for our Super Bowl Sunday lunch. She made her sandwiches with a giardiniera aioli but I don’t particularly care for giardiniera. At least not the ones I’ve tried so far. I do think these sandwiches would be great with a garlic aioli though.
One thing she did do was serve her sandwiches with coleslaw and that was definitely the way to go as far as I’m concerned. Delicious! The coleslaw added a sweet crunch to the tender, savory beef that made it the perfect well-rounded meal.
ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES WITH COLESLAW
Make Italian Beef the Night Before:
4 lbs. boneless beef chuck or rump roast, cut into large chunks
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 can (15 ozs.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Combine all ingredients together in slow cooker.
Cook on low setting for 10-14 hours.
Skim some of the excess fat from the surface using a ladle or cooking spoon.
Shred the beef coarsely with two forks.
4 loaves (12-14 inches each) Italian or French bread
Italian Beef, warm or at room temperature
coleslaw, ready-made or make your own (recipe here)
Cut each loaf of bread into 4 to 6-inch lengths depending on how big you want your sandwiches.
Split each sandwich in half lengthwise and toast lightly.
Fill sandwiches with the shredded beef.
Top beef with coleslaw.
NOTE: Serve sliced pepperoncinis on the side for those who might want them.
You can also top the beef with a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese before piling on the coleslaw, if desired.