I’ve got a dish that will warm you from the inside out – Lighter Chicken Piccata Risotto with Crispy Capers!
While I’m not usually one to shy away from cooking with full-fat olive oils and rich creamy butter, when there’s a way to healthify a yummy classic that’s usually loaded with the stuff I will never say no. So, when I saw an opportunity to slash the calories and fat from one of Ben’s and my favorite dishes, Chicken Piccata, I jumped at the chance.
I am duh-eye-ing over this recipe. Like, hunching over the pan shoveling forkful after forkful of creamy risotto into my mouth in between popping crispy capers like popcorn while Ben’s shouting save some for me! from the other room type of obsession. He was lucky I still had to take photos for le blog because it would have been entirely too easy to demolish the dish all by myself.
Here’s the scoop: BlogHer and RiceSelect recently challenged me to “rethink rice,” taking it from a ho-hum side dish to something spectacular. No problemo. Since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease last year, rice has become an even bigger staple in my diet than it was before and I’ve got all sorts of fun recipes involving this versatile grain swimming around inside my head.
One of them was turning Chicken Piccata, a dish which usually calls for dousing pan-fried chicken in a heavy lemon-butter-caper sauce, into a creamy risotto using RiceSelect Arborio Rice with a fraction of the fat. Translation: you are going to lick. your. guilt. free. plate!
Not only is Lighter Chicken Piccata Risotto with Crispy Capers completely mouthwatering, but it will impress. It reminds me of the Chicken Piccata Ben made me on our first date when I thought he was going to burn his parent’s house down but miraculously pulled through at the last minute. Now that was impressive.
I think it has healing powers, too. As I mentioned I made it with shrimp last Friday, when my man was feeling under the weather, and he moaned slightly less loudly for the rest of the night afterwards…so there’s that!
Start by sautéing 1 chopped shallot in 1 Tablespoon each extra virgin olive oil and butter, seasoning with salt and pepper, in a large pan over medium heat. Add 1 chopped garlic clove and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme then sauté for 1 more minute. (This is arguably better smelling than cinnamon simmering in apple cider at Christmastime, by the way!)
Next add 1 cup arborio rice then stir to coat each kernel in butter and olive oil, and continue cooking for 1 more minute.
Next add 5 cups simmering chicken broth. Traditionally you’d add a ladleful of broth at a time to the rice, stirring until it’s nearly absorbed before adding another, but guess what? You don’t have to! Just carefully pour the whole pot in then stir until the broth is nearly absorbed and the rice is tender, 25-30 minutes.
Mmmm, come to Mama!
When nearly all the broth has been absorbed by the rice add 2 cups baby spinach that have been roughly chopped then continue stirring until the rice is cooked through.
Remove the pan from the heat then stir in 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon), 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, and 1 Tablespoon butter. I made this without the extra butter at the end and it really does adds a richness like you wouldn’t believe. Plus it’s still less butter than most Chicken Piccata recipes call for. Season with salt and pepper if needed then set the risotto aside while you get to work on the crispy caper portion of the program.
I first learned crispy capers were a thing after watching Giada de Laurentiis use them to top a pasta dish on one of her shows. They’re just jarred capers that have been pat dry then fried in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. They become audibly crispy and the flavor mellows out some too. So awesome!!
Heat 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat then add 1/4 cup capers that have been patted dry very well. Fry the capers for 2-3 minutes in the oil or until they’re golden brown and have opened up like a flower. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Now, do not throw that luscious caper-infused olive oil away. Keep it in the skillet, turn the heat down just a bit, and then add 4 chicken breasts (I made two for the photos) that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through then finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. FYI: I have made this with shrimp and it is diviiiine.
Finally, scoop the risotto into bowls then add the sautéed chicken and finish with a sprinkle of crispy capers. Dinner is served!
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Lighter Chicken Piccata Risotto with Crispy Capers
Lighter Chicken Piccata Risotto with Crispy Capers tastes like luscious Chicken Piccata, but has a fraction of the fat and calories!
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup RiceSelect Arborio Rice
- 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup capers, drained and patted dry very well
- 4 chicken breasts
- Bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan then turn heat to low and keep at a simmer. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon each butter and extra virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add shallot, season with salt and pepper, then sauté until tender, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and dried thyme then sauté for 1 minute. Add rice then stir to coat and cook for 1 minute.
- Add hot chicken broth all at once then stir near constantly until rice is tender and nearly all the broth is absorbed, 25-30 minutes, keeping broth at a simmer over medium heat. When nearly all the broth has been absorbed but rice is still creamy, add spinach then keep stirring until rice is cooked through. Remove pan from heat then stir in the juice from 1/2 lemon, parmesan cheese, and remaining 1 Tablespoon butter. Taste then add salt and pepper if necessary and then set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add capers then sauté until slightly opened, brown, and crispy, 2-3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper then saute in caper-infused olive oil for 3-4 minutes on both sides. When chicken has 1 minute left to saute, squeeze second lemon half over chicken. Plate risotto then top with chicken and sprinkle crispy capers on top.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
I can’t pick out what I love best about this creamy risotto. The crispy capers on top are a fabulous addition as pan frying them mellows out the flavor a bit, plus they give this dish an even more delicious twist. The light lemon flavor in the lusciously creamy risotto is a tongue tingler, too. Such a treat – I can’t wait to make it again!