Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fresh Herb & Sunflower Chicken Piccata

Lemon and chicken go naturally together.  Throw in some fresh herbs and it's an end of the summer party.  I really wanted to go alternative on the breading and experiment with anything that would infuse flavor and texture.  Sunflower seeds and oatmeal worked really, really well.  So well in fact, there was no need for the 3 step breading process (flour, eggs, breading), I just pounded the chicken flat and pushed them right into the seed, oatmeal and herb mixture. It was clingy enough to stick and browned up beautifully.  The crunch was perfect and the herbs from the garden perfumed the kitchen and added fresh flavor to the chicken. Here's the new, healthy take on chicken piccata...

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat

For 'breading':
1/4 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1 packet instant oatmeal
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 stem (about 8-10 leaves) fresh oregano
4 fresh basil leaves
1 sprig rosemary
3 stems chives
fresh cracked black pepper

For sauce:
1/4 cup chicken broth (may use more for additional sauce)
1 fresh lemon
1 tsp capers
fresh cracked black pepper

Olive oil & butter for cooking. 

Preheat the oven to 350°. 

Remove the stems from the herbs and rough chop.  Add herbs to a food processor and pulse with seeds, oatmeal and a few cracks of black pepper until coarsely ground.  Spread the mixture onto a large prep plate and dredge the pounded chicken through the mixture.  Use your tongs to press the mixture into the chicken to help it stick.  In a non-stick pan, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and over medium high heat, add 1 tbsp butter. Once melted, add chicken breasts and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes.

In the same non-stick pan used to pan-fry the chicken, add chicken broth to deglaze. Use a wooden spoon to loosen up all bits from pan.  Slice one lemon in 1/2 (reserving a few rings to top the finished chicken) and squeeze all juice into the sauce.  Add the lemon halves into the pan while the sauce reduces.  Reduce on med-lo for about 8 minutes and stir in 1/4 tsp corn starch and a few cracks of black pepper. Add 1 tsp capers and keep on low until ready to serve. Add more chicken stock to balance flavor if necessary.

Top cooked chicken breasts with slices of lemon and then spoon sauce over top.  The chicken goes really well with rice or whole wheat pasta and a side of steamed broccoli which can also topped with a spoonful of sauce. Fresh, healthy, full of vitamins and minerals! 

What other breading substitutes have you tried?  Walnuts? Almonds?

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