The devil is in the details

Last week, I had the chance to be part of a neat support group among friends. A group of my girlfriends put together a food chain, if you will, in an effort to support our friends Stacy, Gabe and their son Rollin in welcoming home Asa, the newest member of their family. We hoped by preparing meals for them over the first two weeks, it would allow them a smoother transition with the new baby.

In brainstorming a meal I could prepare in advance which could be simply heated up in the oven, I recalled this recipe for Chicken Piccata with Pasta and Mushrooms. I have mixed feelings about recipes. They are important guidelines, but there’s also the need to be flexible in the event I am missing one ingredient or in order to use up something in my fridge that’s about to go bad. In some cases though, recipes need to be treated followed to right down to the last step. This is one of those recipes. I promise though, if you pay attention to the details and make this according to the directions, you won’t have to do dishes because you’ll wind up licking the plates clean.

You’ll need:

6 ounces of whole-wheat angel hair pasta

1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, divided

2 cups of reduced-sodium chicken broth

½ teaspoon of salt, divided

¼ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

4 chicken cutlets, butterflied, trimmed and pounded flat (or you can purchase thinly sliced chicken filets if you don’t want to buy in bulk)

3 teaspoons of olive oil, divided

8 oz. of mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup white wine

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

¼ cup fresh chopped parsley

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

2 teaspoons of butter

Now get ready to pay close attention and follow these instructions.

Boil water for pasta. While that’s getting warm, whisk 5 teaspoons of flour and broth in a small bowl until smooth. Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. If you have large chicken breasts, you’ll want to butterfly them and pound them flat using a big pan or a meat tenderizing mallet. If you do that, be sure to cover the chicken in wax paper before you use the mallet or pan to flatten it.

Season the breasts with salt and pepper and then dredge them in flour. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken until brown and no longer pink in the middle (2 to 3 minutes per side). Place in a dish and keep warm. By the time you are done with the rest of these steps, the chicken should be thoroughly cooked.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and begin to brown (about five minutes). Transfer to a plate.

Add garlic and wine to the pan and cook until reduced by half (1 to 2 minutes). Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, lemon juice and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring until the sauce thickens (about 5 minutes).

At this point, you’re going to want to throw your pasta in soon so it will be finished cooking by the time the sauce is done.

Stir the parsley, capers, butter and the mushrooms into the wine/flour/broth sauce. Once everything is combined, measure out about one cup of the mushroom sauce. Toss the pasta in the pan with the remaining sauce. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and reserved sauce.

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