Bonus Levels: Chicken Picatta Florentine

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So I know I’m on a bit of strawberry kick lately. Can you blame me? Besides, due to an exhausting weekend of cooking a multi-course Game of Thrones meal for 14 people, and then dining on and documenting a multi-course Star Wars-themed dinner the following night, I’m too beat to complete a report on either! (Stay tuned for both, by the way. You will NOT be disappointed!)

That said, today’s bonus level was a contest entry that didn’t quite win me a trip to Vegas. However I thought it was too tasty to let it fade into obscurity. That’s the nice thing about competing in recipe contests; you never actually lose. Either way you get to eat something tasty.

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So this recipe combines chicken with shallots, capers, spinach, and a lemon buttercream sauce. The flavors are a bright balance of sweet, bitter, and tart — great for spring or early summer. Despite what those ingredients imply, this is actually a pretty light dish if you want something satisfying, but not too filling.

Chicken Picatta Florentine with Strawberries

Serves 4

Equipment: two medium-sized plates, skillet, stove-top, teakettle, colander, salad spinner (optional)

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4-6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, small diced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground sage
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 10 oz bag flat spinach
  • 2-4 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Put chicken in a ziplock bag, push the air out of the bag and seal. Flatten chicken to an even ½ inch thickness with a kitchen mallet or rolling pin. Start to melt one tablespoon of butter in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat on the stovetop.

Mix flour with one teaspoon of kosher salt and pour onto a medium sized plate. Pour the beaten egg onto another medium-sized plate. Dredge each chicken breast in the egg, and then coat with flour before adding to the skillet. Cook until browned on each side and reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove chicken from skillet and allow to rest.

Turn on kettle with 4-6 cups of water. Add shallots to pan and cook until softened. Deglaze pan with lemon juice, reduce to low and stir in thyme, sage, butter and capers. When butter has melted, stir in cream and season with salt to taste.

When kettle has come to a boil, put spinach into a colander over the kitchen sink and pour boiling water over leaves, tossing so all spinach is cooked. Immediately turn the faucet on cold water and rinse the leaves. Allow to drain for a minute or two (or spin in a salad spinner) and distribute the blanched spinach between four plates to make a bed for the chicken.

Turn off heat on skillet. Place chicken breast on each bed of spinach. Spoon equal amounts sauce on each. Top each with sliced strawberries and fresh cracked pepper before serving.

The Gluttonous Geek