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October 02, 2013

Rollin' With The 80s

Dinner: Old School Style
This week, my kitchen is caught up in a time warp. It seems that every dish that I've been whipping up is a replay from the 80s.

Aside from being a really great decade, it was during the 80s that I worked my way through school by waiting tables at a slew of restaurants. It was New Orleans and just like now, everything in the city was all about hospitality; I didn't know anyone who wasn't involved in the industry.

In fact, for those folks trying to scratch their brains on the story of how Mr. B and I ever met in the first place, here's the deal: his parents owned a restaurant that I worked at, but since he was away at school, I met his family before I ever met him. So, yeah, we share a history together and when I served this old school chicken picatta up for dinner the other night, it set off a lot memories.

Picatta originated in Italy where it is traditionally made with veal. I never understood that because I think veal has far too delicate a flavor to stand up to the sauce; I like to use chicken. Anyhow, it's a simple dish to make: cutlets are tenderized, dredged, fried up in olive oil and butter and then sauced, in the pan with white vermouth, capers, lemon, garlic and finished with butter.

So, tune in to an 80s station, turn up the sound, and head to the kitchen. This dish will take you back in time.

Chicken Picatta
3 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half
1 cup of white vermouth (or white wine0
4 tablespoons of olive oil
6 tablespoons of butter, divided in half
2 heaping tablespoons of capers
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 handful of Italian parsley, stemmed, finely minced
1 lemon
flour
salt and pepper

1. Pound out the chicken breasts, between wax paper, until they are thin.
2. Dredge the chicken breasts in flour.
3. In a pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; add the olive oil and bring to a high heat.
4. Add the chicken breasts, but don't crowd the pan--you can always fry the breasts in two batches.
5. Fry the chicken until it is golden brown on each side and almost cooked through; remove the breasts to a plate.
6. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the white vermouth to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, loosen the pan drippings. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and reduce by 1/2.
7. Return the chicken breasts, and any juices, to the pan; cook for 5 minutes.
8. Toss in the capers and the juice from the lemon. Gently stir to combine, lifting the chicken breasts as needed.
9. Remove the chicken breasts to a plate and keep warm.
10. Add the butter to the pan to melt, incorporating the butter with a whisk; add the parsley.
11. Immediately pour the sauce over the chicken.
12. Serve with angel hair pasta tossed with minced parsley, green onions, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a bit of parmesan cheese.

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