Friday, 18 September 2009
One of my favourite ingredients to use is capers. I just adore wonderful tang and pungent taste. Some would say they are an acquired taste, and Todd would agree . . . but I just love them. Sharp and piquant, with a fabulous aroma that I just adore. I use them in sauces and casseroles and also on pizzas and in salads. They can even be fried and tossed into dishes for a crunchy, crispy and tangy accent. I always have at least two jars in my larder at any given time.
Capers are the unopened buds that grow on the new limbs of a caper plant which is a small-flowering bush that is usually seen growing wild along the Mediterranean coastline. It’s usually found clinging and protruding from rocks, mountainsides, and out of cracks in walls and structures along the way. Picked and then pickled in vinegar, oil, or brine, and also salted, they are wonderful additions to many dishes, the most common of which is piccata.
Once upon a time, the ancient Greeks and Romans used them for medicinal purposes, and eventually they found their way into their culinary adventures. It is interesting to note though, that capers contain a high amount of rutin, a well-known bioflavinoid and anti-oxidant., so I guess the Greeks and Romans were ahead of their time!
Capers range in size from the very tiny non-pariels (about the size of a peppercorn) which is the size that I use the most, and the ones that are the most prized for their flavour . . . right on up to about grape size. You can buy the larger ones with the stems still attached and they do make a pretty picture in some dishes.
Lemon, capers and parsley are wonderful partners.
See what I mean?
*Chicken with Lemon, Parsley and Capers*
If you like tender chicken with lots of flavour you will love this. The lemon, parsley and capers combine to form a delicious sauce. This is quick to do and a real favourite around here. I like to serve this with mashed or boiled potatoes and some haricots verts.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each one sliced through the middle horizontally
to form two escalopes
salt and pepper
4 TBS flour
4 TBS olive oil
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and mashed a bit
the juice and zest of one lemon
2 TBS of capers in vinegar, rinsed, drained and chopped
4 TBS finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Season the chicken escalopes lightly on both sides and then dredge them in the flour, patting to help it adhere and shaking off any excess. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook until quite fragrant. Push the garlic to one side. Add the chicken slices to the hot oil and brown them over medium high heat on both sides. Squeeze the lemon juice over all and add the lemon zest, capers and parsley. Let the lemon juice bubble up, then clap on a lid and remove the pan from the heat. Allow to sit for several minutes to make sure the chicken is cooked through. It will be soft and moist and very flavourful. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if required. Serve immediately.