The process of taking a cutlet of meat, coating it with a little flour, and cooking over high heat in a lot of butter is a pretty foolproof way to make dinner. The principles for a good result are a skillet with ample room to accommodate the meat and consistent, high heat, both of which ensure proper browning and protect against soggy results. The preparation is incredibly common with chicken and also with veal, as in this recipe I prepared last year.
What I love about this cooking style is its quickness and elegance, and also because after cooking I'm left with gorgeous pan drippings, sticky with browned flour, to make any number of sauces.
Piccata is probably most associated with chicken, but a while back I ended up at the blog Proud Italian Cook and found a post for Tilapia Piccata. I'd always wanted to try it with fish. At the market I ended up with two fillets of pike, but pretty much any white fish would suit. The recipe is a straightforward piccata preparation with the requisite lemon juice, capers, white wine, and parsley. You don't get quite the same meatiness as with chicken, but the buttery, briny flavors suit white fish wonderfully.
- 2 fillets white fish fillets, such as tilapia, pike, or sole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Flour as needed for dredging
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon capers
- chopped parsley for garnish
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in the flour. Once the butter foams and begins to brown, add the fish fillets, turn the heat to high, and brown well, turning once, 4 to 5 minutes total.
Remove the fillets to a warm resting place, and add the wine to the pan. Scrape up the browned bits and add the lemon juice along with the capers. Reduce for half a minute, then add the last tablespoon of butter. Check for seasoning and acidity, then return the fillets to the sauce to warm. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with rice.