The History of Piccata

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Even though the exact origin of chicken piccata is unclear, it definitely comes from the Italian culture, but it has been hard for Italians and Americans to narrow down exactly what the word “piccata” means. When translating it from Italian to English, it has several different meanings and originates from several italian words, the result being a mixture of possibilities (Sorosky Gray).  It is unsure whether chicken piccata was made by Italians in Italy or by Italian immigrants after they came over to the United States around the early 1930s. The name for a lemon and butter sauce differs in the various regions of Italy as well, making it hard to track down the exact location it originated from (Sorosky Gray).

Although the word “chicken” is usually in the title when searching for the recipe, the dish was actually originally made with veal and is sometimes made using other meat rather than chicken. The most common meat used is chicken, but duck and veal have also been known to be used in the dish. Pig brains, fish, shrimp and wild boar are more uncommon things that have been known to be substituted for chicken (Sorosky Gray).  I myself grew up eating just plain old chicken piccata and prefer to eat the dish with chicken, but “to each his own” as some people might say.

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Whatever you decide to use to make it, one of the main reasons piccata is popular is because it is known as a fairly fast and economical dish. The piccata sauce is said to be the perfect blend of salty, acidic and buttery flavors, then broth or wine is added to complete it. There are many different variations of piccata. The classic italian sauce usually consists of lemon, broth/wine, butter, salt and pepper and other ingredients are sometimes added to the lemon sauce like capers, parsley or even garlic to spice things up a bit and usually finished off by adding salt and pepper so it’s not too bland. Although it is untraditional from the original recipe, a few Italians have been known put their own spin on piccata by substituting lemon juice for grape and orange juice (Sorosky Gray).  I think this is a little strange, but who knows it might taste good! Then the chicken (or other meat used) is usually covered in flour before you make it. My mom adds breadcrumbs when making hers—adding her own personal touch—and I think it’s a great addition, it tastes so much better than using just the flour to coat it! There you have it, all different kinds of ways to make piccata.

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