Chicken Piccata is a brilliant example of how you can take a tried-and-true, classic recipe and make it Paleo and Whole30 compliant without sacrificing an ounce of flavour. As always, it doesn’t hurt that the dish comes together in around 2o minutes, making it perfect for busy folks and those of us who are just impatient and hungry!
Piccata recipes typically involve pan-frying a thin piece of meat or fish before using the same pan to make a lemon-caper sauce. There are many variations of the classic Italian dish. You can make it with swordfish or trout, veal or pork scallopini, or chicken breast, as I have done here. Traditionally, the protein is dredged in flour before frying so that it gets nice and crispy. The pan then gets deglazed with white wine and lemon juice before being finished with butter. The finished product is bright, citrusy and briney, all of which goes perfectly with the crispiness of the meat or fish.
This Piccata has a few adjustments to make it Paleo and Whole30 compliant:
- The chicken is dredged in Tapioca flour (also referred to as Tapioca starch), a wonderful alternative flour that also makes amazing pancakes (see here). It is not as gritty and more neutral in flavour than coconut flour. Not as expensive as almond flour. And more heat-stable than most alternative flours. It also gets super crispy with even the lightest dusting over the chicken.
- Piccata recipes rarely call for seasoning the meat with more than salt and pepper. I like to kick it up a notch (damn right that’s an Emeril Lagasse reference) by ‘bamming’ the chicken with some spicy smoked paprika. Why waste an opportunity to add flavour?
- Rather than deglazing with white wine, I use stock – especially bone broth if I have some laying around in the freezer. It’s not that I have any particular issue with using wine here. But even if I were not doing a round of Whole30 or following a Paleo routine, I would still use stock because it tastes better.
- Piccata is traditionally finished with a pat of butter. This step is optional in my opinion but if you choose to go that route you can easily use ghee instead. It adds a beautiful layer of richness and gives the piccata a bit of a sheen.
I hope you like it and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Chicken Piccata – Paleo & Whole30
2 chicken breasts – sliced lengthwise or pounded approximately 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup Tapioca starch – or more if required
2-3 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 shallot – finely sliced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp capers
3-4 lemon wheels
3 tbsp fresh parsley – finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp spicy, smoked Spanish paprika
1 tbsp ghee (optional)
- Slice chicken breasts lengthwise into 1/4″ filets. Season all sides with salt, pepper and paprika.
- Preheat 2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, lightly dredge the seasoned chicken breast filets in tapioca starch.
- Carefully add the dredged chicken filets to the hot oil and pan-fry for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Note, depending on size of skillet you may have to work in batches.
- Transfer browned chicken to a paper towel-lined tray.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, shallots, lemon wheels and capers to the same pan used to brown chicken. Sauté for 60 seconds. Deglaze with chicken stock and lemon juice.
- Using a wooden spoon, scrape off any brown bits that formed on the bottom of the pan. Bring the stock to a light simmer and reduce by half. Finish the sauce by stirring in a knob of ghee (optional).
- Return browned chicken to the pan, give everything a quick toss to coat and garnish with chopped parsley.
- Serve overtop of zoodles or pureed cauliflower.