Toronto is in the midst of an early thaw. Yes, I said “thaw”. And yes, it was -35° C mere weeks ago. It’s bananas! All our snow is gone and the thermometer has taken a violent swing in the opposite direction. I would be excited, but it won’t last. This spell of unseasonable warmth and April-like rain is just further evidence that Ontario’s weather is a gong show. The other day, it was 6° C in the morning and it was closing in on -15° C by noon. What even is that?! But, although I stated that I’m not excited by this taste of spring, I do know how to make hay while the sun shines. Although, in this case, I’m making Chicken Piccata with Pappardelle Primavera while it rains horizontally. It’s kind of the same thing.
Yes, I’ve decided to rush spring a touch. I do realize that “a touch” is quite the understatement when we haven’t seen the ass of January yet, but whatevs. I didn’t plan to make a dish so spring-oriented, it just kind of happened. So many of my meals are painstakingly planned out. I do this to ensure there’s always fresh content on the blog and that no food goes to waste. That means my beau and I mostly eat leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It soothes my guilt complex. But sometimes I go rogue. And sometimes when I go rogue, good things happen. Good things like this Chicken Piccata with Pappardelle Primavera.
So, what happens when I throw culinary caution to the wind? Well, on this particular carefree trip to the grocery store, a whole lot of green things wound up in my cart. I have no explanation of this, but I do have some theories. First theory: I have a vitamin deficiency and my body is trying to fix itself. The problem I have with this theory: If it were true, why did my body let me buy a huge bag of wine gums? Second and more likely theory: I miss vegetation. I miss leaves, I miss grass, I miss signs of life. Apparently, I thought a bag of green beans could remedy this longing. It sort of worked.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of just how tame my life is. I just used the phrase “Go rogue” to describe a free-form shopping trip – I would not make for compelling television. But where I fall flat, this dish sings. I don’t think I have to convince you that pasta on a rainy January evening is the most compelling shit ever. Plus, there’s a fried chicken situation on the plate spooning that compelling pasta. Do I really need to sell this to you?
To all you piccata aficionados out there, please don’t hurt me. I know my version is in no way traditional. In Italy, piccata is typically made with veal and is served after the pasta course, not on top of it. So yeah, wrong animal and wrong order. But wait! There’s another more devasting blow to the “authenticity” of this dish.
Pasta Primavera is not Italian. It was created by New York chef Sirio Maccioni in 1975. And, weirdly, the dish was concocted and served for the first time in my home province of Nova Scotia. Pasta Primavera was created for Baron Carlo Amato who had a summer home on Robert’s Island of all places. You can’t make this shit up! Maccioni brought the dish back to New York with him where it appeared as an unlisted special at his restaurant Le Cirque in 1977. And the rest is creamy history.
So yeah, this Chicken Piccata with Pappardelle Primavera is not authentic, and it’s not seasonally appropriate. But do you know what it is? It’s freaking delicious! And when it’s January and it’s raining like it’s April, this dish is the best damn thing on earth.
- 4 chicken cutlets
- 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 (250 g/9 oz) package pappardelle
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1 cup green beans, cut into thirds
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/4 cup pasta water
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- Place chicken cutlets between two sheets of wax paper. Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken until it's roughly an 1/8 of an inch thick. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the breadcrumbs, cheese, and salt together. Pour the flour in a separate bowl and the place the eggs in another. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then dip it in the eggs, then roll it in the breadcrumb mixture. Place the breaded chicken pieces on a large plate and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken to the pan and fry until golden on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the chicken and repeat on the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Pop the plate in a 150° F oven to keep warm.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally. Add the pappardelle and cook according to the package's directions. Drain the pasta and toss in a little oil. Be sure to reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water from the pot.
- While you're waiting for the water to boil / cooking the pasta, wipe out the skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and reduce the heat. Season the mushrooms with a generous pinch of salt and leave them to sweat in the pan for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the zucchini, green beans and a little more salt. Increase the heat and sauté until the greens are just tender, about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the veggies to a bowl and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the butter, lemon juice, and capers to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the veggies back to pan and stir in the pappardelle. Toss to coat. Add the pasta water and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 1-2 minutes.
- Spoon the pasta onto four plates and top with a piece of chicken piccata. Pour any extra sauce from the pan over the chicken and serve immediately with additional shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.