Food & Drink

Lemon adds just-right bit to chicken

If capers or roasted lemons are not typically in your cooking repertoire, give them a try in this dish. This chicken recipe is simple to make, and the capers and lemons lend sweet, sour and salty notes.

Capers are the flower bud of a bush indigenous to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. They are bold and salty with a hint of herbs. Add capers to dishes at the end of cooking for optimum flavor.

Capers are usually sold in small jars in a brine of salt and vinegar; look for them near the olives at most grocery stores. Some specialty stores also sell them packed in salt. A common brand is Reese, sold in a 3-ounce jar for $3 to $4.

Capers range from about the size of petite green peas — they are called nonpareil and come from France — to almost twice that size. Before using capers, always drain them from their salty brine (reserve the brine) and rinse well to rid them of excess salt. Pour the reserved brine back into the jar to keep any remaining capers submerged. Once opened, capers should be stored in the refrigerator.

Add rinsed capers to a variety of sauces or toss them in salads. They go well with poultry, meat and many fish and seafood dishes — especially salmon. Chopped capers are one of my must-have ingredients for making tartar sauce. I add a little bit of their brine to the sauce in place of salt.

As for the lemons in this dish, roasting mellows their acidity, balances their citrusy tones and adds a hint of sweetness. You can roast the lemons a day in advance. Once they are cool, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator — they'll keep several days.

I recommend roasting extra lemons and using the juice to make vinaigrette. Whisk the juice with olive oil, Dijon mustard, a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper and fresh herbs.

Chicken With Capers and Roasted Lemons

Roasted lemons:

3 medium lemons, scrubbed, thinly sliced and seeded

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/8teaspoon sea salt or more to taste


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 1 lb.

1/8teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

3/4cup white wine

2 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided

To roast lemons: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer. Brush the lemons with the oil and sprinkle with salt.

Roast the lemons until they are slightly dry and beginning to brown around the edges, about 30 minutes.

To prepare the chicken: Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and pound it with a rolling pin until flattened to about 1/2-inch thick, or slice the breasts horizontally in half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the flour in a shallow dish or pie plate and dredge the chicken to coat on both sides. Shake off the excess; discard the remaining flour.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it's golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add the chicken broth and wine and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until the liquid is reduced to syrup consistency, about 5 to 8 minutes, turning the chicken halfway.

Add the roasted lemons, capers, butter, 2 tablespoons parsley and more pepper if desired. Simmer until the butter melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Eating Well magazine, fall 2004 issue.

The Wichita Eagle—12/16/09