Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Turkey (or Chicken) Piccata

Turkey Piccata on plate with lemon and parsley garnish, overhead view on black

This simple, lemon-sauced dish screams “special occasion”

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may be looking for a festive main dish. Preferably one that’s impressive, but still easy to prepare. A piccata made with scaloppine is just the thing.

You could use veal scaloppine, of course. But turkey and chicken have plenty of flavor—and they cost a lot less. Plus, your supermarket’s meat case probably stocks pieces of turkey breast already sliced into “scaloppine” (making this dish even easier to prepare).

So if you’re still pondering your Valentine’s Day menu, fret no further. You rang—turkey piccata answered. 


Turkey Piccata with lemon and parsley garnish, on plate with vegetables

Recipe: Turkey (or Chicken) Piccata

I like to make this dish using scaloppine cut from turkey breasts, because turkey has a bit more flavor than chicken; it also remains moist when cooked quickly. But it’s easy to substitute chicken (or a meat of your choice—see the Notes for details).

To ensure speedy cooking, I like to use turkey scaloppine that’s no more than ¼ inch thick. Usually the scaloppine I buy in the supermarket is a bit thicker than this, so I just pound it thinner (I place it between two sheets of plastic wrap and hammer it with a meat pounder). If you don’t have a meat pounder, any heavy blunt object will work—in a pinch, even the bottom of a heavy frying pan.

This recipe is simple, but it does have a few steps. First, you need to sauté the scaloppine quickly. Then place the scaloppine in the oven for a few minutes (to keep them warm while you prepare a quick pan sauce). When the sauce is ready, quickly swirl each scaloppine through the sauce to warm and coat it. And that’s it—you’re ready to plate and serve.

My version of Turkey/Chicken Piccata combines bits and pieces of various recipes I’ve used over the years. My two favorite recipes for this dish come from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen.

Prep time for this dish is no more than 10 minutes, with cooking time an additional 15 minutes or so. This recipe serves 4, but it’s easy to scale up or down to the number of servings you need.

Leftovers keep OK for a few days if refrigerated—but they don’t taste as good as when freshly cooked.

Ingredients
  • 8 ~3-ounce boneless, skinless turkey scaloppine or cutlets cut from the breast (about 6 ounces per serving; see Notes for substitutions)
  • ~1 cup flour, spread on a plate
  • salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt; maybe half that if using regular table salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (you may need a bit more; see Step 5)
  • 1 small shallot, diced finely
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • lemon rounds or twists for garnish (optional)
  • additional chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Procedure
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Once you start cooking, things go fairly quickly—so assemble all ingredients and do all prep work (dicing shallots, squeezing lemons, and so forth) ahead of time.
  2. If the turkey scaloppine/cutlets are thicker than ¼ inch, pound them thinner: Place each piece of turkey between 2 sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper, and whack them with a meat pounder until they’re ¼ inch thick.
  3. Place a large frying pan (10” or larger, preferably one made of stainless steel) on medium stovetop heat.
  4. While the frying pan is heating, dump the flour onto a plate, add the salt and pepper, and mix together. Dredge each piece of turkey in the flour until well coated. Shake off excess flour, and set the pieces of turkey aside. (If you prefer, you can dredge each scaloppine in the flour right before adding to the hot fat in Step 5. In fact that's how I usually do it.)
  5. When the frying pan is hot, add the olive oil and heat it. When the oil is hot (it’ll shimmer—this takes about 15 seconds), add as many pieces of turkey as will fit comfortably in the frying pan. Do not crowd the pieces (otherwise they’ll steam rather than sauté). Cook the turkey pieces until the first side is brown (about 3 minutes). Then flip all the pieces and cook the second side for another 2 minutes. Remove the turkey pieces from the frying pan and place them on a heatproof plate or pan lined with paper towels; place the pan in the oven to keep the scaloppine warm. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining turkey pieces, adding more oil to the frying pan if necessary.
  6. When all the turkey pieces have been sautéd, pour the fat out of the frying pan; wipe off any residual fat with paper towels. Add the diced shallot to the frying pan and cook it on medium for 1 minute. Then add the turkey or chicken stock and the capers, scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a spatula, and cook until the stock has been reduced by about half.
  7. When the stock has reduced, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and the two tablespoons of chopped parsley, and stir to incorporate. Taste, and add another tablespoon of lemon juice if you want a more pronounced citrus flavor (optional). Adjust seasoning, and add 1 tablespoon of butter to enrich the sauce if you wish.
  8. Remove the turkey pieces from the oven. Swirl each turkey piece in the pan sauce to warm it (and to coat it with sauce). Place 2 pieces of turkey on each serving plate. Pour the remaining sauce over the turkey pieces, and garnish each plate with a lemon round or twist and/or additional chopped parsley (optional). Serve.
Turkey Piccata with lemon and parsley garnish, on plate with fork and napkin in background

Notes
  • I often add half a cup of white wine or dry vermouth in Step 6 after I've added the shallot. I scrape up those browned bits on the bottom of the pan, then add the chicken stock and capers, and let it all cook until it's reduced. The wine adds some nice flavor, but it's optional.
  • I like to use a stainless steel frying pan for sautéing the scaloppine because it helps create a nice, brown crust. With a nonstick skillet, the meat won't brown as well.
  • If you prefer to substitute chicken in this dish, use 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each about 6 ounces in size. Pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper until they are ¼ inch thin. (It’s sometimes easier to butterfly the chicken breasts and cut them into two pieces before pounding.) You can ask your butcher to do this for you.
  • You can use veal scaloppine for this dish, although it’s pricey and not as flavorful as turkey (but it’s more tender, and certainly more traditional). Butchers often cut veal into scaloppine pieces that weight 2 or 3 ounces each; you need about 6 ounces of meat per serving, so you’ll want to use two or three veal scaloppine per person, depending on the size.
  • You could also use pork scaloppine if you wish. You’ll need slices of pork tenderloin cut into 3-ounce portions, and pounded thin.
  • I like piccata to be on the tart side, so I always use 3 tablespoons of lemon juice—but you may prefer less.
  • Capers add a pleasantly sharp note to this dish. But they’re not traditional—omit them if you want.
  • Adding a pat of butter to the sauce enriches it (and creates a nice sheen). Omit the butter if you want, but you’ll be missing out on some flavor.
  • BTW, when I make this dish for two—as I often do—I use half the quantity of meat, but make the same amount of sauce. That means I always wind up with a bit too much sauce, but it’s so good I don’t mind.
  • I like to serve piccata with sautéd potatoes and a dark-green veggie. But any side dish that sounds good to you probably will be.
Turkey Piccata with lemon and parsley garnish, on plate with vegetables

Restaurant Quality at Home

“This dish brings back memories,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, taking a bite. “Remember years ago, when we were living in Kansas City? That’s where we learned to love Chicken Piccata.”

“Yes, I used to travel during the week for work, but I was always home in time for dinner on Friday night,” I said. “We often went out to that restaurant we liked to celebrate the start of the weekend. And ordered their great Chicken Piccata.”

“I’m so glad you no longer have to travel for work,” said Mrs K R. “Wonder if that restaurant is still there?”

“That was a long time ago,” I said. “But we could probably find another restaurant that serves piccata, if we want to enjoy some nostalgia.”

“No need,” said Mrs K R. “We’re here, the kitchen is here. And you make a mean piccata. Besides, it’s more romantic with just the two of us, n’est-ce pas?”

“True, and the Boca Negra Cake you made for dessert is better than anything we’d get at a restaurant,” I said. “I’d say we have a five-star establishment right here.”

“Welcome to Café Kitchen Riffs,” said Mrs K R. “A table for two, right this way! And happy Valentine’s Day, mon cher.”

You may also enjoy reading about:
Boca Negra Cake
Boeuf Bourguignon
Hungarian Beef Paprika Stew
Roast Pork
Easy Tandoori Chicken
Pink Lady Cocktail
Or check out the index for more

111 comments:

  1. Good morning John , this dish looks good and I know it taste heavenly , I love all the ingredients and can't wait to make it and most of all cook it , like my kids say , that man can cook ;-D. At most super markets here , they will slice your meat . Happy Vaeltine to you and Mrs. K R . Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Hi Nee, good point that supermarkets will usually slice meat to your specifications. I'll add that in the post at some point. ;-) Happy Valentine's Day! And thanks for the comment.

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  2. I have never made this, but yours looks amazing, and I would love to try this out. A perfect Valentine dinner! Especially when you combine with those wonder drinks you keep posting every now and then.

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    1. Hi Minnie, this really is a nice Valentine's Day dinner! And a nice cocktail before dinner? Perfect! Thanks for the comment.

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  3. This looks moist and juicy and cooked to perfection. I would love to have a piece of it for sure!!

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    1. Hi Shibi, this is such a good dish! I love it! Thanks for the comment.

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  4. And I scream HUNGRY :) this is so easy and looks very special. I bet hubby will like it too. We became chicken eaters since we landed here and I am always on the hunt for good new recipes.

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    1. Hi Amira, this is a great dish! Loads of flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. I'm sure the Mrs. would love this dish John. It looks very delicious, moist, and cooked perfectly. Nicely done. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Ray, I'll bet she would like this! Definitely worth a try. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Chicken or turkey piccata - doesn't matter. This has always been one of my favorite dishes. I always make double the sauce because it is so yummy. Fun time at the cafe tonight! And for sure good eating!

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    1. Hi Abbe, I make this dish with either chicken or turkey, but lately much more with turkey. Double sauce is a great idea! Thanks for the comment.

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    1. Hi Caroline, this is the perfect dish for almost any day of the week! Loads of flavor, not that much effort. Thanks for the comment.

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  8. The slice of lemon in the photo had my mouth watering, John. I'm really into lemons these days. And this sounds like a perfect execution of the classic dish. Hope you and your bride have a happy Valentine's Day!

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    1. Hi Terry, I'm a real lemon freak (all citrus, really) so I use it whenever I can. This is just just a wonderful dish -- a real favorite of ours. I hope you guys have a wonderful Valentine's Day too, and thanks for the comment.

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  9. Juicy and delicious looking piccata, my brother and dad would love it :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Hi Uru, I think you're right that this is a dish your brother and father would love! Really good flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Love it, John. Pork Piccata is my favourite too!

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    1. Hi Lizzy, pork piccata is outstanding! But any kind of piccata is tops in my book. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. This looks great and like a ultimate dinner (one that I wouldn't mind seeing on my table!). Great job!

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    1. Hi Pamela, I'd actually like to see this on my table again soon! Thanks for the comment.

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  12. This is one of my favorite dishes - my mom made it frequently for us growing up!

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    1. Hi Alyssa, isn't this wonderful? Tons of flavor! Thanks for the comment.

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  13. Perfect timing John! I found an uncooked turkey breast in the freezer that needs to be used. This is the perfect recipe for it. I love a good piccata and this one does look yummy! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi MJ, I always enjoy discovering forgotten treasures in the freezer. ;-) I'm a real piccata fan, too. And this is a good one! Thanks for the comment.

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  14. I have not had this dish since I lived at home. Great recipe and love the simplicity and elegance of this dish. I am sure this little romantic dish will please anyone that gives your recipe a try. Just shared this recipe on google +.Take Care, BAM

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    1. Hi Bam, isn't this so nice? Lovely flavor, but simple, as you said. I should prepare this more often than I do! Thanks for the comment.

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  15. I almost made this last week and then another thought came into my head and I promptly forgot. Mine wouldn't have looked this good!

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    1. Hi Maureen, you should make it this week! Or next. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. I've never had a piccata. We can't buy turkey like that here in Oz. Mostly turkey is only sold as a whole bird and only available at Christmas! Things are changing though and I'm starting to see turkey mince in the shops. I love how this dish has capers and lemon - yum! xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, this is also wonderful with chicken, and pork tenderloin works real well too. Thanks for the comment.

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  17. We love piccata but it has been a while since we had some. Need to change that ASAP. This looks so delicious, John :)

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    1. Hi Kiran, we're the same way -- we'll love a dish, but for some mysterious reason won't cook it for ages and ages! Weird. Thanks for the comment.

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  18. This looks like a really elegant and delicious meal, John! Now if only I could convince someone to make it *for me* for Valentine's Day - haha :-)

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    1. Hi Amy, I think you should change the homepage on that certain someone's computer to this recipe! Think that will be enough of a hint? ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. wow, finger licking good!!!!
    i think i'm attemp to lick the lemon butter sauce to the last drop of it....

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    1. Hi Dedy, that sauce is wonderful! Makes the whole dish. Thanks for the comment.

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  20. Mouthwatering! I wish I could eat your piccata for supper.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, we could and did! It's a great dish. Thanks for the comment.

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  21. This is always a favorite of mine...and I actually am still thinking about my Valentine's Day menu, this would be perfect!

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    1. Hi Kristi, this is such a great dish for Valentine's Day IMO -- looks and tastes great, and doesn't take that long to make. Thanks for the comment.

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  22. I'm not typically a chicken or turkey fan, but this is so perfectly golden brown, it's changing my mind.

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    1. Hi Laura, although you certainly do taste the turkey or chicken in this dish, it's the sauce that really has the most flavor. Good stuff! Thanks for the comment.

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  23. I haven't made Piccata in years John. I love that you included capers. I have seen recipes of late that omit the capers. I'm not sure why:) I have made this using wine which is a nice touch especially for Valentine's Day. I'd would love to make it with Veal put as you say, it sure has gotten pricey. I may just give it a try with turkey. That, I haven't tried. Thanks so much for sharing, John...

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    1. Hi Louise, we used to make this all the time, then stopped for some mysterious reason, and now are making it again. The turkey is really a nice change -- worth trying, IMO. Thanks for the comment.

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    2. Hi John,
      Just popping by to pick up your link to share on Pinterest and to wish you and Mrs. K.R. a memorable Valentine's Day filled with delicious food and clinking glasses:) Enjoy!

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    3. Hi Louise, I hope your Valentine's Day is fun and delightful! Thoroughly enjoyed your post today on your blog!

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  24. That looks like a mighty fine Valentine's dinner! I definitely opt for adding the butter and anything with lemon and butter gets my vote! Absolutely delicious, dish, John!

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    1. Hi Bill, that little bit of butter added to the sauce at the end really is nice! Thanks for the comment.

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  25. The leftovers of this classic dish are very good. I agree. They make great paninis. GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, I never tried leftovers in a panini! I need to do that. Brilliant idea! Thanks for that, for for the comment.

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  26. Lemon piccata has been a longtime favorite in this house, and yours looks so mouthwatering, John! What a great idea to serve with potatoes, too. I usually serve with pasta, but I'd love to try that different side. Thanks for sharing and inspiring me for next time!

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    1. Hi Georgia, I'm a potato freak, so I like to serve potatoes! Although pasta with this dish is a terrific combo too. Thanks for the comment.

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  27. This looks amazing! A perfect Valentine dinner in my book!

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    1. Hi Chris, this is such a great dish! And you're right that it's perfect for Valentine's! Thanks for the comment.

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  28. I absolutely love lemony meat dishes, such a fresh flavour especially covered in butter is even better. I will have to try this dish, the recipe looks delicious.
    Gourmet Getaways

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    1. Hi Julie, this really does have a fresh flavor. You'll like this, trust me. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. This looks so moist and juicy! a perfect meal any time of the year, the lemon touch just makes it for me

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    1. Hi Raymund, I'm a sucker for lemon, I must admit, so this dish totally has my number! Thanks for the comment.

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  30. What a great dish, John. I love lemons and capers together. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Nancy, don't lemon and capers combine so well together? Thanks for the comment.

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  31. A classic that never goes wrong. It does look so special on the plate. I think it's the golden crust on it, plus the embellishments of lemon and capers that does it.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, this really is such a great dish. But anything with lemon gets my attentin! Thanks for the comment.

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  32. This indeed makes an excellent entree for the Valentine's day! I've only had veal piccata so far but the turkey version sounds fantastic. The use of capers is such a nice touch. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Yi, I think the turkey version actually has a bit more flavor. And I really like the capers, too. Thanks for the comment.

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  33. Oh this makes me hungry--for piccata, and for those private moments of nostalgia and realization that you can have it as good at home as you ever did at all the eateries of your (younger) lives. So very sweet.

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    1. Hi Deepa, you're so right about those private moments of nostalgia! And although it's fun going out to restaurants, a lot of things are better at home, because you can cook them exactly the way you like them. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. Looks wonderful with just the right amount of browning. I never cook with chicken breast because it is always dry or I dont know how to make it moist. Did not think about turkey breast (I never do if it is not November). Gotta try this with turkey because we love this dish but always order at a restaurant.

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    1. Hi Ilke, the nice thing about this recipe is because you pound the turkey or chicken breast so thin, it cooks quite quickly and doesn't dry out. And even if it did, that sauce will perk it right back up! Thanks for the comment.

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  35. Oh beautiful dish, John! I've had veal piccata at restaurants before and love it. But I've never attempted any form of it for myself. I'm glad you used turkey. I'm embarrassed to tell you that the only thing I really know how to do with turkey is buy it whole, stuff it, and roast it (on one day a year!). I am not a huge fan of ground turkey recipes....so this turkey piccata is a good place for me to start. Thanks for your always awesome side notes! And I wish you and Mrs. KR a very happy Valentine's Day! : )

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    1. Hi Anne, it hasn't been all that long since supermarkets have been offering interesting cuts of turkey on a regular basis. It's a fun meat to experiment with! Happy Valentine's Day to you, and thanks for the comment.

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  36. This does look like the perfect Valentine's Day dinner. We love turkey and it gets such a hard rap sometimes because people don't know how to cook it properly. This looks remarkably tasty. Happy Valentine's day to Mr & Mrs Kitchen Riff!

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    1. Hi Donalyn, this really is a great dish. Since you love turkey, you'll totally adore this dish! Happy Valentine's Day, and thanks for the comment.

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  37. Love a good chicken piccata! I never thought to use turkey. How do you keep the turkey breast tender? Mine have a tendency to toughen up.

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    1. Hi Pamela, turkey piccata isn't as tender as veal (or even chicken) but when you pound it and cook it quickly, it's reasonably tender. You will need a knife to cut it (which you usually don't with veal) but it also has more flavor. So it's a bit of a tradeoff, I guess. One I actually like! Thanks for the comment.

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  38. I make a lot of chicken piccata, but always love to see the little twists in different recipes. I think yours will be our dinner for Monday! Happy Valentine's Day to you and Mrs. KR :)

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    1. Hi Liz, glad you provide you with Monday dinner! Happy Valentine's Day, and thanks for the comment.

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  39. Dear John,

    This looks like a beautiful chicken breast recipe as I have always found breast meat a little dry. I can imagine the tartness of lemon juice would work so well with the rest of the ingredients.

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    1. Hi ChopinandMysaucepan, when you cook the breast fairly quickly it stays pretty moist, but the sauce really helps, too. Thanks for the comment.

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  40. Another great recipe John. While I don't make it often it is a favourite because of the lemon in the sauce. Yours looks fabulous. I usually replace some of the broth with white wine reducing by half after each liquid addition. I love the capers in this and am puzzled you don't consider them traditional. Piccata recipes are remarkably consistent from what I have seen with the main variation being whether to use wine (sometimes dry sherry or vermouth), stock or both. The vast majority call for capers.

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    1. Hi Food Junkie, I could well be wrong about the capers not being traditional! I'm no expert, and I like them. I think they're more common in the US than in Italy, though. The recipe in the Silver Spoon cookbook doesn't call for them (this is basically the Italian equivalent of The Joy of Cooking, nor does Marcella Hazan. And when I first started eating this dish (over 30 years ago!) they weren't that common. But you're right that today most recipes in US cookbooks do specify capers, at least the ones I've seen. And they're awfully good, which of course is why I include them in mine! Thanks for the comment.

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    1. Hi arah & Arkadi, it is, it is! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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    2. Whoops, just noticed I forgot the S on Sarah! Sorry about that.

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  42. Mrs KR is right. You should not be looking for a restaurant that serves a chicken piccata. You made a great one! It's beautifully done, John.

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    1. Hi Ansh, it's a fun dish to make! Thanks for the kind words, and comment.

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  43. Delicious. I love scaloppine and please stay tuned for a saffron sauce that would be delicious with a turkey cutlet! (I doubt I can top this though.)

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    1. Hi Debra, a saffron sauce sounds excellent! Looking forward to that. Thanks for the comment.

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  44. Well Valentine's has come and gone and I'm obviously late but I am thinking this dish will be perfect regardless of the time of year! Looks delicious!

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    1. Hi Simone, you're so right that this dish is wonderful any time! Thanks for the comment.

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  45. nice, very nice indeed, i like the gold color and i almost feel the apetisant and delicious taste of chicken in my mouth :D

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    1. Hi Aurica, don't you love the color of meat that's been browned? So attractive! Thanks for the comment.

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  46. This kind of recipe with either veal or chicken is a special favourite because it is quick and so tasty. I love a touch of cream in the sauce too.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, where would we be without quick recipes? And this one is particularly tasty! Thanks for the comment.

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  47. What a lovley chicken dish! I love Chicken Piccanta. It is great that you are able to create something that you enjoyed in the restaurant many years ago. Food surely does bring memories.

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    1. Hi Holly, isn't this nice? Fast, tasty, and pretty. And those memories! Food is fun, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  48. I'm so glad you shared this recipe today, John. I've not made a piccata in ages. It's such a great dish and so easy to prepare, too. Like you, I normally degalze the pan with a bit of white wine, though I'll use Vermouth if there's no white available. (Quelle horreur!) It's on my shopping list now so it won't be missing from my table much longer. Thanks, John.

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    1. Hi John, dry vermouth works pretty well when I don't have white wine. Nice thing about the wine, though, is the cook gets a bit as well as the pan. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  49. This sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Hi Dawn, it's really a nice dish. Delish. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  50. I'm such a fan of Chicken Piccata...why would turkey not be just as awesome?! Lemon, butter, capers and white wine...just the perfect combo. I really like the saltiness capers brings! Thanks for the recipe ;)

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    1. Hi Kelly, that's what I thought before I decided to make this, and discovered turkey works even better! Thanks for the comment.

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  51. I love that you used turkey! This is one of those classic recipes that screams comfort! Your recipe sounds so delicious:-) Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, turkey works so well in this dish -- makes a good dish even better, IMO. Thanks for the comment.

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  52. I would always go for veal if I had a choice, but of course I don't. Eating veal meat is so very common in central Europe and I have been suffering that I can't get veal here. Luckily I adapt easily, so no worries. lol Anyhow I would be mighty happy if I could enjoy your gorgeous looking turkey piccata right now John! Just perfect!

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    1. Hi Helene, I dearly would love to visit central Europe someday and have some of their veal dishes! We have veal in the US, of course, but too often the meat is tender but a little bit lacking in character. Thanks for the comment.

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  53. We love chicken piccata! Easy weeknight meal that is perfect for guest too. Great recipe. :)

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    1. Hi Judy, isn't this an easy dish? And so tasty! Thanks for the comment.

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  54. Dude, one of these days when we finally get to meet in person I want you to make me this. This looks incredible.

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    1. Hi Kim, it'd be fun to meet you! And I'll definitely make this in your honor. Might have to ask Mrs K R to make something in the turtle line -- just to make you feel at home. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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