Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ina Garten's Chicken Piccata and Ellie Krieger's Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream

It's another Thursday double header today, with the Barefoot Bloggers taking on Ina Garten's Chicken Piccata, and the Craving Ellie in my Belly group cooking up Ellie Kreiger's Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream. I was a bad, bad Barefoot Blogger in February and failed to post either of the February recipes. I actually made the Real Spaghetti and Meatballs (late) but never got around to posting it (I'll cut out all of the extraneous content that would have been in my post and just say that it was great!). The other February Barefoot recipe was Meringues Chantilly, which really sounded wonderful, but ever since January I started to feel like my days were looking like this: wake up, brush teeth, get kids breakfast, run around all day, make dinner, whip egg whites, go to bed. I felt like I had to take some steps to return egg white whipping to its proper place on my schedule; i.e., an event that takes place no more than quarterly. So I hated to miss that one, but I will be sure to try it sometime down the road!

But I vowed to do better this month, and I've started the Barefoot month off right by making Ina's Chicken Piccata, which was chosen by Lindsey of Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings. This is a simple dish. It does involve breading chicken, which I rank right up there with making meatballs and squeezing frozen spinach as my most dreaded kitchen tasks. While I am an omnivore, I really hate manhandling raw meat. Touching uncooked meat makes me momentarily reconsider my omnivorous habits, but I just try to keep my eyes on the prize and get those babies in the skillet as quickly as possible. The breading assembly line, which included one dish for the flour/salt/pepper mixture, one for the egg/water mixture, and one for the seasoned bread crumbs:

After browning the chicken in the skillet, move them to a baking sheet and finish them off in the oven. I really like this technique. I often have problems with burning the outside of the chicken when I try to cook it through in the skillet, and this method helped me avoid those problems.

The chicken was delicious on its own, and even my kids liked it. But it's the lemon butter sauce that transforms your dinner from "chicken" into "chicken piccata!"

Ina says to use 1/3 cup of lemon juice, or the juice of two lemons. Well, two of my lemons yielded a little more than 1/2 cup of juice. I decided to give greater weight to the "juice of two lemons" part of Ina's instructions than the "1/3 cup lemon juice" part, probably because I am coming off of a recipe (for lemon cup custards) in which the general consensus was that you could stick a whole lemon tree in there and it still wouldn't taste lemony. As it turns out, that was a mistake -- I should have stuck with 1/3 cup, unless I was also going to increase the amount of butter and white wine proportionally. My sauce was a little bit TOO lemony. I think the goal is to achieve a nice balance between the lemon, wine and butter, but the lemon definitely overpowered in my sauce.

I served the chicken piccata over angel hair, and we really enjoyed it, although again, it was a little too lemony. But this is an easy and flavorful dish that I will make again. I'll just keep in mind next time that this is not a lemon cup custard, in which eggs lie in ambush waiting to suck the life out of any other flavors that dare step onto their turf; it's chicken piccata, and with this chicken piccata, anyway, more is not more when it comes to lemon juice.


I was really excited to see that that Sara from imafoodblog chose Ellie's Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream for CEIMB this week. One of my new year's resolutions is to cook more fish, and this looked like a simple, non-scary recipe to start with. I think that fish tacos are readily available in many regions (Ellie mentions California), but I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have never had a fish taco. Also, something about saying "fish tacos" makes me laugh. They remind me of "fish sandwiches," which also makes me laugh, probably because David can do a dead-on impression of the classic line from the old SNL sketch, the Ladies' Man: "Hey sweet thang, can I buy you a fish sandwich?" and every time he does it, it's as funny to me as the first time I heard it.

I really don't need lots of different jokes. The same three or four over and over again work for me. That doesn't bode well for the future of my blog, but it does keep me eminently entertainable with minimal effort on the part of my family and friends, which I view as a plus. So while David does have lots of very funny stuff up his sleeves, he knows that if he is feeling lazy one day, he can just break out the fish sandwich line without ever having to look up from the paper, and I'll be good to go.

Back to the fish tacos. I am happily married, but back in my single days, I could have totally gotten picked up if someone offered to buy me one of these fish tacos. As with many of Ellie's recipes, they offer big flavor with minimal effort. You marinate the fish (I used tilapia fillets from the Publix fish counter) in a simple marinade of olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper, and then grill them for a few minutes, until they are cooked through. Flake the fish before filling the corn tortillas, and serve them with corn, lime wedges, sliced lettuce or cabbage, and a seriously delicious chipotle cream, which is a very simple mix of plain nonfat yogurt (I used nonfat Greek yogurt), a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise (I think lowfat would be fine), and a couple of teaspoons of minced up chipotle chile in adobo sauce. The finished product is good enough to hold its own with fresh salsa and guacamole in any chip dip contest. It is fabulous on the fish tacos, and we finished it off tonight with some chicken, black bean and veggie quesadillas. It was great with those, too!

I can't think of too many dinners that are faster to throw together than this one, but these tacos are delicious and satisfying enough to serve guests as well. I feel like I am saying this a lot about Ellie's recipes lately, but this one will most definitely be assuming a prime spot in our regular weeknight dinner rotation.

Lindsey and Sara, thanks for the great picks! We ate well this week thanks to you!


Heather said...

i love chicken piccata! ina's recipe sounds delicious. you know, i've never tried fish tacos. i keep on thinking about ordering them at a restaurant, but then i'm so concerned i'll hate it. the chipotle cream sounds delicious, too :)

Megan said...

Well, when life hands you lemons, you make........ piccata! And fish tacos!

But not in the same night.

Mary Ann said...

Yeah for 2 winners! Now I am feeling guilty because I didn't make either of these yet. I intend too, but I haven't. They both look very delicious and since I already know I love fish tacos, I am really excited to try Ellies version. I have been a bad TWD'er too. They both look great.

Mary Ann said...

Not saying that you are a bad TWD'er, but just that I am a slacker in general. Does it count that I am making tons of other stuff? just not what I am supposed to? lol

Pam said...

Both recipes look really tasty. Thanks for the lemon tip on the chicken piccata.

I love fish tacos and Ellie's recipes so I know I would love this dish.

Elyse said...

Man, two delicious sounding meals. Haha, sorry your piccata was too lemony, but you're right: after the lemon custards, too lemony isn't so bad! Everything turned out just great, and you've now offered me wonderful recipes for two of my favorite meals. Especially fish tacos. I'm a total sucker for them. And that chipotle cream sounds like I might just spoon it into my mouth. Yum!!

Matt's Kitchen said...

My breading experiences usually involve my fingers ending up looking three times their normal size with their liberal coating and re-coatings of bread crumbs.

Cathy, you could write about anything (paint drying, grass growing, the history of the shoelace) and it would be funny. You are definitely not a one-joke wonder!

I'm definitely going to make the fish tacos. When, I don't know. But they sound wonderful...

Andrea said...

Great job on both recipes, Cathy! I think that the piccata over angel hair pasta would have worked better than the fusilli I used which was a little too thick. I'm glad that you guys liked both recipes even though the lemon was a little too strong! Your black bean and veggie quesadillas sound delicious, I know what I want for dinner :)

Linds said...

Thanks for participating in this round of Barefoot Bloggers. Your piccata looks delicious! I'm sorry your sauce came out too lemony...I used medium-sized lemons and thought that the flavor was perfect...but my lemons probably yielded closer to 1/3 cup of juice.

Jessica said...

Those both look so good! I love chicken piccata but I agree with you about having to get up close and personal with the raw meat. For some reason chicken skeeves me out more than the rest too.
I really want to try the fish tacos. I am totally intimidated by cooking fish at home but they look so good that I want to try at least. Hopefully I won't make the kitchen smell like a wharf.

spike. said...

There have been a ton of lemon recipes floating around lately. Have you seen the filet o' fish commercial? Actual makes me want to get a filet of fish!

Suzie said...

The piccata looks great - now I want to try the tacos as well. They sound really good.

applecrumbles said...

It was an easy recipe. Tilapia was a good pick.

Pamela said...

I used Tilapia, too and I really enjoyed the recipe. Now, I am enjoying the leftovers for lunch. The chicken piccata looks great, too. I know I will be trying that one soon!

Maria said...

I love tilapia, great fish choice! The tacos look terrific!

Jen said...

Your taco looks fabulous!! I had never had a fish taco either, but I thought these were great! Good idea on the quesadillas...I may do the same thing with the leftover sauce because it was very tasty!

Sara said...

I really liked the fish tacos, too. And I also can't remember ever eating one before last night. Thanks for cooking with me and I am so glad you enjoyed them.

Anne said...

We have fish tacos all over in Arizona (though I wouldn't eat any fish that lives in a murky lake, here, so hopefully the fish is quickly helicoptered over from the coast or something!) and they are great. You're welcome to come visit anytime to try it! Your chicken looks great too and the comments about the lemon were too funny. Great work Cathy! :)

Aggie said...

These were great recipes! I loved them both. I was a bad BB last month too...I'm happy to off to a good start this time! ;)

As always, you make me laugh...I can't stand handling raw chicken either and was actually trying to use tongs like Giada does ever so gracefully...but I ended up with gummy fingers anyway. How does she do it???

Bridgett said...

Ugh, raw chicken is NOT to be touch simply from being way too disgusting! lol. I use tongs and hang onto them for dear life. Both of these recipes are fantastic and yours look wonderful. You can't go wrong with chicken piccata.

Teanna said...

Damn those rogue eggs! But please, OMG Ladies man is my FAVORITE! When I was setting up camp in the liquor store, I spotted a bottle of courvoisier and I kept saying under my breath, "I got my bottle of Courvoithier" like the ladies man. Hahahaha now I can't get the fish sandwich thing out of my head. said...

Haha! I know what you mean about the lemons. Sometimes they just completely overpower dishes. Yours looks unbelievably wonderful though!

~Delta Whiskey (Cat)

Audrey said...

I was waiting for you to say that you bread your fingers instead of the chicken, which is what happens to me. I love not-too-lemony lemon chicken, a.k.a. chicken piccata, and the breading has to make it even better. I love the around-the-corner breading station, too. Did you spec that when you were planning your new kitchen? (hee hee). And for fish tacos, yes, please...especially with a side dish of quesadillas! But I'm with you on the more-fish resolution (not that I'm keeping it.)

Peggy said...

Cathy I am so appreciative of your earlier tip to me to keep it lighter on the lemon sauce. Ours turned out delicious. And you are getting better and better with your photos, unlike me who is still struggling with that!!

pinkstripes said...

Fish tacos are wonderful. I guess I take them for granted here in Southern CA--every Mexican place (and some non-Mexican) has them on the menu.

I have raw meat handling issues too. It's the reason I only cook vegetarian. Something about raw chicken eeks me out.

Melissa said...

Both dishes look wonderful! I had to laugh at your reference back to the lemon cup custard. I won't easily forget the custard myself!

Debinhawaii said...

Your chicken picatta looks great--I agree the lemon can be a bit overpowering sometimes. Your tacos also look wonderful. I can't believe it is your first fish taco. You need to come visit and I'll set you up! ;-)

The Blonde Duck said...

This is brilliant. Ben has been demanding more fish and I'm obsessed with Mexican food. We can combine our demands! Hooray!

pigpigscorner said...

Fish tacos...that's new..sounds really yummy. Wonderful flavours there.

Jamie said...

That chicken picatta looks amazing!!! Yum!!!!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Cathy, I'm a huge fish taco fan, I'll definitly have to try this lighter version, I sure could use it!

Elra said...

Love this classic chicken picatta, and the fish taco sounds very delicious especially with chipotle cream.

Natashya said...

You have been cooking up a storm! I am coming over to your house, after the kids are in bed of course.. just save me some leftovers.
It all sounds so wonderful, nice fresh flavours for spring.

Karen said...

I made the mistake of not tasting my sauce before putting it on my chicken = pucker city! I would most definitely adjust the lemon next time.
I love fish tacos and chipotle anything, I'll have to try these!

Di said...

Ooh, I'm going to have to bookmark the chicken piccata recipe--I love lots of lemon. I usually add more lemon juice than recipes call for. Mmm.

Tonya @ What's On My Plate said...

the chicken was definitely too lemonY! i think it was cooking the lemon halves in the sauce. intense!

n.o.e said...

Those lemons can be sneaky - coyly hiding one minute and then the next they totally take over the dish. I've started erring on the side of too little citrus in my savory dishes; I've had too many dinners ruined by too much lemon or lime.

Love the sound of that Mexican food - especially your quesadillas!

vibi said...

I'm not crazy about piccata chicken... but I have great fans of it, at home, so I can't make pretend it doesn't exist! LOL

Yours looks lovely... but exceptionnaly, I did come today to read you and not so much for the recipe... and it was a great read, as usual. Thank you.

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