Ciao Italia Blog Exclusive: Chicken Cutlets with Lemon, Orzo, and Spinach

March 23, 2009

Now that Spring has officially sprung my thoughts have turned to light, refreshing recipes.

Now, I’ve lived in New England long enough to know that, just because the calendar tells you its Spring, doesn’t mean it feels like it outside. Around here you just can’t trust a warm spell. So I never put away my winter duds until the first week of June, just to be safe.

Last week on a day when the thermometer hit 60, I went for a long walk and I did spot some daffodils inching their way out of the ground, and the bare trees seem to look perkier. That all got me thinking about tangy tasting lemons. Maybe because I associate their refreshing taste with something new and light.

Anyway, I was thinking about dinner because, as you know a chef’s mind is always on food, and the nice weather made me think of veal cutlet with lemon and butter sauce over orzo. And just like that, dinner that night at my house was settled.

Instead of buying an expensive veal cutlet, I used chicken cutlets (to save money with the economy being what it is), and I have to say that the dish was its own stimulus package: Easy to make, great flavor, and not too heavy.

Stimulus Package Chicken Cutlets with Lemon, Orzo, and Spinach

Serves 4
1 1/2 cups orzo cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
One 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well squeezed
4 skinless boneless chicke breast halve
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Grinding coarse black peppe
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons capers in salt, well rinsed and minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup f resh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Combine the cooked orzo with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Stir in 1/4 cup of the lemon juice. Salt to taste. Stir in the chopped spinach and 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover, set aside and keep warm. Or make ahead and reheat in the microwave when ready to serve.

Place each piece of chicken between two sheets of wax paper and use a meat pounder to thin them to about 1/4 inch thickness. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper together on a dish and dip each breast into the flour mixture, coating well on both sides and shaking off the excess. Set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil l in a large non stick skillet and brown the chicken, adding more olive oil as needed. Transfer them to a dish as they brown and set aside.

ChickenwithLemon2Add the butter to the pan and stir in the onion. Cook until the onion wilts down, about 3 minutes. Add the capers and cook 1 minute. Stir in the wine, raise the heat to high and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in lemon juice and zest and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly.

Return the chicken cutlets to the pan and heat gently until hot

Make a bed of the orzo mixture on a serving platter. Place the chicken breasts over the orzo and pour the sauce over the top. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and serve. Spring has arrived!

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