The Wine Country way to cook chicken
Vintner Allie Ketcham, proprietor of Ketcham Estate Winery in California’s Russian River Valley shared this easy chicken recipe with us. It’s her family recipe, inspired by one of her favorite restaurant dishes. This chicken in caper sauce is her version of the chicken paillard at Bistro Ralph, a beloved Healdsburg restaurant that closed in 2016.
Bistro Ralph was a mainstay in downtown Healdsburg for 24 years. Anyone who ever tried the restaurant’s paillard is sure to be transported with this recipe.
What is paillard?
I mentioned in the introduction that this is a paillard of chicken breast in a caper sauce. Paillard simply refers to flattened meat, be it chicken pork or beef.
How to make a paillard of chicken breast
Making a paillard involves pounding the meat to a perfect, thin scallop that cooks quite quickly and evenly. Allie recommends zipping the meat into a sealed bag before pounding, which makes for extremely easy cleanup and zero raw meat aversion.
And since we’re in support of making the process of cooking a pleasure, we’re sharing this technique, even though we know it’s not the most eco-friendly. We can also suggest pounding between two sheets of parchment paper. It isn’t necessarily quite as clean of a method as Allie’s but it does the job without excess plastic.
To further reduce any chance of meat aversion, be sure to buy boneless cuts of meat. This will largely reduce the amount of time you spend handling the raw chicken. Trust me, you do not want to debone chicken unless you have to.
Tips for making this one-pan chicken recipe
If you hate cleanup, this is going to be one of your favorite chicken recipes because it cooks in one pan – specifically a cast iron pan. (Click here to shop one of my favorite cast iron brands.)
First, you bread and cook the chicken. Then you reuse the same pan to make the sauce, incorporating all the tasty bits left from cooking the chicken.
To make the caper sauce
Make sure you keep your heat low when you’re sauteing the shallots. In addition, you want to keep the butter cold. Do not get it out of the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. (Cold butter melts slowly. This helps ensure that the butter doesn’t separate and “break” your sauce.)
How to serve this bistro-style chicken dish
This chicken is meant to be served with the caper pan sauce poured over the top and a wadge of fresh lemon. Make it the centerpiece of a meal with a simple sautéed veg or colorful side salad and perhaps your favorite roasted or mashed potatoes.
If you want a side dish that’s lighter, consider serving this pan-fried chicken with a cauliflower puree. Alternatively, you could make a chicken paillard salad. Just cut the browned chicken breasts into thin strips and serve with a plated green salad.
A chicken in caper sauce wine pairing
Although you can serve this chicken breast paillard with whatever beverage you like, the Ketchams recommend serving it with a great Russian River Pinot Noir, like their Savannah and Nick’s Cuvée. (These limited production Pinot Noirs are named after the Ketchem’s two children, so you know it is a labor of love.)
And since red wine makes our list of the world’s greatest aphrodisiac foods, the combination really assures you a chance at romance.
Allie Ketcham’s Chicken Paillard in Caper Sauce
- 4 chicken breasts approx 6-oz each, thinly pounded (I recommend zipping them in a Ziploc bag one at a time and pounding each with a meat pounder.)
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil for shallow frying
- 2 shallots minced
- 3 Tbsp capers with juice
- 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 lemon cut into wedge
- Once the chicken fillets are pounded thin, dredge them in egg & bread crumbs.
- Heat a cast iron fry pan to very hot.
- Add Olive oil. Cook chicken in pan about 3 minutes on each side. Or until it seems like it is cooked all the way through.
- Remove from pan and set aside on paper towels.
- Turn down the heat on your stove to low, add shallots and let brown for a minute or two.
- Add capers, cider vinegar and mustard. Be sure to scrape down and incorporate any chicken bits that may be stuck on the pan.
- Simmer until liquid reduces to about half.
- Stir in the butter and cook another minute.
- To serve, plate the chicken and pour sauce over each paillard. Squeeze the lemon over the finished chicken or serve wedges on the side.
- Enjoy with a glass of Ketchem Estate Pinot Noir.
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