If you’ve been on my blog very much, you know that I am a huge fan of lemon. Savory dishes, sweet dishes any dishes, lemon is my favorite taste and aroma. This gluten-free chicken piccata is a one-pan recipe that uses a classical pan-reduction technique and bathes the chicken in a lemony sauce with capers.
Pan Reduction Cooking Method
The cooking process in a pan reduction goes pretty quickly so it’s important to have all of the ingredients, chopped, measured and right near the stove. Before the chicken hits the pan you’ll need to have all the ingredients at your fingertips. So take the time to prep everything.
If you’ve ever made a pan reduction dish before, you might notice that the method I provide is a little different. I know my French culinary school instructors and all the French and Italian chefs in the world would scold me, but I don’t care. The result is the same. Here’s why I stray from the traditional.
I usually have to cook the chicken in two batches so as not to crowd the pan too much. By the time I get to the second batch, the residue in the pan starts to burn. That residue is what is going to flavor and thicken the sauce. So after the first batch I deglaze the pan with some of the chicken broth. This means pour a little broth in the pan and scrape up the residue to loosen it. I then pour out this liquid, saving it for later. This can be done after the second batch too if the residue is on the verge of burning.
Flour – The chicken is coated in flour before cooking. Some of this flour will fall off and will help to thicken the lemon sauce. I prefer white rice flour for thickening a gluten-free sauce. It creates a similar texture to wheat flour and has a slightly sweet, neutral flavor. Brown rice flour does not have enough starch content to thicken well. If you don’t have plain white rice flour, a gluten-free flour blend will work too.
Salt – I recommend using a low-sodium chicken broth. Imagine Food’s Chicken broth is very good. Since all low-sodium broths do not have the same salt content I have not put an exact amount in the recipe. Add a little bit at a time and let your taste buds tell you how much is the right amount.
Chicken – The cooking method of this gluten-free chicken piccata relies on using very thinly sliced chicken breast so that it cooks quickly. If it cooks for too long, the flour will start to burn. Here’s how to cut the chicken to make it thin enough for this recipe.
How to Slice Thin Chicken
Most chicken breasts these days are unusually thick and large. For this gluten-free chicken Marsala, thin pieces work best. Most chefs would tell you to pound the chicken to make it thin. But this is a messy and time-consuming process and I’m just not that patient!
If you prefer to pound the chicken: Place it between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and use a fry pan to pound it flat. I prefer a fry pan to a meat mallet because it covers more surface area and goes faster. Use a medium amount of force. Press too hard and the chicken will tear.
So here’s how I prep my chicken for chicken piccata:
Start with a sharp knife and a stable cutting board. Put a damp paper towel underneath the keep it from slipping.
If the chicken breast is very large, I like to cut it in half this way before cutting thin.
Next: Place one hand on top of the chicken (fingers flat) and hold the knife parallel to the cutting board. Try to keep it as level as possible. With one long smooth stroke, cut a 1/4′ piece. For most chicken breasts this would be 3rds or quarters..
Then cut the remaining piece in half using the same technique.
How to Thicken Gluten-Free Sauce
I have found that all white rice flour and gluten-free flour blends are not exactly the same. Some brands seem to thicken better than others. Depending on how thick you prefer your sauce you may want to have a plan B if the sauce doesn’t thicken enough.
The best way to fix a sauce that has not thickened enough, is to use something called a buerre manie (burr man-YAY). This is a fancy French name for a mush of soft butter and flour. For this recipe, I recommend having this standing by in case you need it. Mix 1 tbsp soft butter with 1 Tbsp flour until the flour is completely moistened by the butter. Stir this little paste into a liquid and it will melt without lumps of flour. Bring the liquid to a boil and your sauce will become silky.