When I was about 10 years old, my parents used to take me to a restaurant called The Seashell.
The first time we went, I ordered Chicken Picatta. It was amazing. The thin slice of chicken coated in a light batter, smothered in a buttery caper sauce, melted in my mouth. I had a new favorite dish. Every time we went back to The Seashell restaurant, I didn't even look at the menu. I knew what I wanted, the Chicken Picatta.
I remembered this delicious dish this week and decided to try to make it myself.
Chicken picatta with roasted eggplant and salad
The past weeks have been consumed with my daughter Daphne trying to make it into the talent show at her school. The woman who is in charge was quite brutal during the audition process.
Often times, kids would stumble into the hall after trying out, sobbing because they, "just aren't good enough for this show." I think she was trying to be Simon Cowell.
Monday afternoon, I picked Daphne up and she was on the verge of tears.
Chicken Picatta (fat style)
2 large chicken breasts, butterflied
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken broth
juice from two lemons
3 tablespoons capers
flat leaf Italian parsley to garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the salt and pepper into the flour in a bowl. Place each piece of chicken into the flour mixture. In a skillet, heat the olive oil on high. Just before the oil smokes, turn the heat down to medium high. Place the chicken breasts into the skillet to brown. Turn over after four minutes and brown the other side for about four minutes. Place the chicken in a roasting dish and put this into the oven. In the same skillet, saute the onions and peppers for five minutes. Add the garlic for another three minutes. Add the butter and melt it completely. Pour in the chicken broth. Simmer for five minutes. You can thicken it up by adding a mixture of 1 tablespoon of melted butter and two tablespoons of flour. Whisk this into the sauce. You may not need to thicken it. You decide. Add the capers at the last minute. Take the chicken out of the oven. Make sure it is cooked all of the way through. Place the chicken on a plate and pour the sauce over it. Garnish with parsley. Serve it with a vegetable. It tasted wonderful with roasted eggplant.
The teacher told her that she was probably not good enough but to check the call list just in case she makes it.
I told her not to worry if she didn't make it in the show and that if she did, it would be a mixed blessing.
She had never heard of a mixed blessing and asked me what I meant by that. "Well,"
I told her, "in this situation, it would be an advantage to you if you get into the show because you really want to be in it, you love to sing, and it would be a lot of fun for you. However, it might come with disadvantages because this teacher doesn't seem very nice and might be very critical of you and your performance. That is a mixed blessing...a little good and a little bad." She nodded in acknowledgement.
The next day, Daphne texted me with, "It's a crossed blessing." I laughed and was relieved she made it in. I love it when kids get the words wrong.
Jack used to call seagulls sea eagles. It makes sense to call them sea eagles because they are big birds at the sea, like eagles. Here, a crossed blessing makes sense too. At least she understood the meaning.
In the end, Daphne made it into the show and has been practicing really hard to prove she deserves to be in it. The teacher has been really nice ever since. I guess it wasn't a mixed blessing after all...just a blessing.
Later that evening I made my chicken picatta. I tried to remember how it was prepared so long ago in that delightful little restaurant.
I decided to make it my own by adding peppers, onions and garlic to the butter and caper sauce. I thought this would make it more colorful and tasty.
The battered chicken in butter seemed too beige to me. About half way through the recipe, as the chicken was baking in the oven, I looked at Claud and said, "Oh no, I forgot to pound the chicken into flat pieces." Claud gave me a horrified look. "What, is that a big deal?" I asked him. "Yes, that is how chicken picatta is made."
Well, it was too late to worry about that. The sauce was almost finished and the chicken was nearly ready. I had to go with it. I put everything on the plate.
First I placed the lightly battered chicken breasts along side the roasted eggplant. The chicken looked so overweight. I was a little sad. Then, I poured over the buttery pepper and caper sauce. Then, it looked really good.
We sat down to taste it. We were both very quiet. A few bites in, I had to ask, "is it okay?"
Claud said, "I think notpounding out the chicken was a crossed blessing. Sure, you are teaching people the wrong way to cook chicken picatta, but this is quicker and tastes just as good." Ahh yes, maybe my chunky chicken is a crossed blessing.