Rocco's Piccata: American Take On Standard Italian Recipe Gets A Little Better Thanks To Tucson’s Favorite Chicagoan Chef And A Batch of Meyer Lemons

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Rocco DiGrazia

You know Anthony 'Rocco' DiGrazia from his lionized restaurant dedicated to all things Windy City related, Rocco's Little Chicago. But did you know the Chicago native also spends his free time perfecting recipes from the old county?

DiGrazia shares with us one of his staple comfort food recipes that is sure to please all carnivores— Meyer lemon chicken piccata with rosemary.

"This is my favorite variety of chicken piccata, which is one of those very easy recipes that someone can throw together that looks and tastes pretty impressive and the dish is adaptable," DiGrazia said.

Hopefully, we're all familiar with Italy's method of fileting, battering and sauteing a protein called piccata. The method is similar to battering and frying chicken but adds a few extra steps to prepare the meat and accompanying sauce. While Italians traditionally make the dish with veal, Italian-Americans began adapting the recipe to use yardbird due to its affordability and availability.

DiGrazia said he was inspired to play around with the traditional chicken piccata recipe after being gifted a large batch of Meyer lemons from a friend years ago. Meyer lemons have a sweeter, more orangey taste than their sour sister, the lemon.

"I was wondering what I was going to do with this big batch of Meyer lemons and this came to me," DiGrazia said. "I added the rosemary because it goes well with citrus and usually chicken piccata doesn't have garlic, but I add garlic to everything."

While the process of butterflying the chicken (slicing the chicken breast from the side, but stopping just before cutting the breast in two pieces) and then dredging the breast in flour before sauteing is traditionally the same, the secret to this dish is in the sauce.

If you can't get your hands on a few Meyer lemons, DiGrazia has a great hack that works well in a pinch.

"A Meyer lemon is essentially two parts lemon to one part orange," DiGrazia said. "You could use about a ½ cup of lemon juice and then a tablespoon or two of orange juice to bring out some of the sweetness and cut down on some of the acid."

DiGrazia recommends pairing the finished dish with a side of ricotta gnocchi and a glass of your favorite wine.

Rocco's Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata with Rosemary

Ingredients:

2 skinless boneless chicken breasts

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

6 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

6 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/3 cup chicken stock

½ cup Meyer lemon juice

¼ cup of rinsed capers OR julienned kalamata

olives

A 6-inch sprig of fresh rosemary, stripped and

minced

1-2 cloves of minced garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chopped flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Procedure:

Butterfly chicken breasts and pound out if they're

no more than ¼ inch thick.

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.

Melt 3 Tbsp butter and all of the oil in a large cast

iron skillet (preferred) or pan on medium heat.

Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess

Fry chicken for about 4 minutes per side until

lighly browned and then on a paper towel.

To Make the Sauce:

Saute rosemary and garlic in the pan for a minute or so, until fragrant. Then add chicken stock and Meyer lemon juice to the pan.

Scrape up browned bits and cook until stock and juice mix reduces a bit and thickens up.

Add the capers or olives to the pan and barely melt the remaining butter into the sauce.

Season dish with salt and pepper and serve sauce over chicken and steamed broccolini.

Garnish with parsley.

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