Updated: Apr 24, 2020
Who doesn’t love chicken piccata? It’s buttery, lemony, zippy, and satisfying- a favorite of mine and of many. Piccata style dishes grace our table frequently, but I’m always challenged by the following question: what do I serve with this delish dish that will compliment the flavorful chicken and soak up the briny sauce? This usually involves boiling water in a separate pot to make some spaghetti or rice- always great partners, but it means that I’m using A LOT of pots and that the pasta/rice remains pretty bland unless heavily doused with the piccata sauce. Hmmm... what to do? Cooking the side (in this case perfectly suited orzo) with the chicken in the same pan has revolutionized my piccata prep. Less dishes at the end of the night and more flavor in the starchy companion dish equal one big YES PLEASE! All this lacks is some green goodness- which I was going to add but then realized we were out of spinach. Stir some spinach or kale greens in to wilt in the last part of cooking (when you’re thickening the orzo) and you truly have a one pot wonder. I also like to serve this with a simple green salad or some steamed green beans on the side. We pick this piccata on the reg- I think you will like it a lotta.
prep time: 15 min. cook time: 30-35 min. serves: 3-4
3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves, butterflied to make 6 cutlets (about 2 lbs total)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 whole lemon, very thinly sliced and seeded
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced into thin rings
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 cup orzo
2 tbsp drained capers
1/2 cup dry white wine
2-1/4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
zest of 1 whole lemon (about 1 tsp)
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil and 1 tbsp of the butter in a large cast iron or heavy oven proof skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken cutlets all over with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the cutlets in batches to brown, about three minutes per side. Remove the browned cutlets to a plate to rest while you finish all the chicken- it won’t be cooked through, that’s ok. Set the browned chicken aside.
Add the remaining oil and butter to the same skillet. Toss in the sliced lemon and shallot and cook until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté 1 minute more, until fragrant. Next, pour in the orzo and stir to coat. Toast the orzo, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan- scraping up any brown bits on the bottom as you allow it to reduce by half. Add the capers, chicken stock and 1 tsp of salt and stir to combine. Nestle the chicken pieces back into the skillet (along with any accumulated juices from the plate) and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the stove and carefully transfer the skillet to a middle rack in the hot oven. Bake the dish for 12-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (165°) and the orzo is al dente.
Remove the skillet from the oven. Transfer the chicken pieces to a clean plate, and set the orzo back on the stove over medium heat. Simmer the saucy orzo about 3 minutes more, until the liquid has reduced and the orzo has thickened. It should be slightly creamy- like a risotto. Off the heat, stir in the parmesan, lemon zest, and the parsley. Place the chicken back on top of the orzo and garnish with more parsley. Serve hot with extra parm if desired.