Pork piccata: A quick, simple dish to serve guests
When I advised my daughter to peel the chickpeas when making hummus, I received this in reply: “Not everyone is retired!”
Other time-intensive cooking suggestions elicited the same response.
Cooking from scratch definitely tastes better, but there is a trade-off in time spent. Readers have commented that they liked my recipes but decided to pass when they looked at the ingredient list and the number of steps. The pork piccata recipe that follows is simplicity itself, with the resulting dish elegant enough for company.
The piccata style of cooking involves sauteed meat served with a sauce made with lemon, butter and spices. The Italian favorite often served in restaurants is veal piccata. Aside from ethical considerations regarding its production, veal is expensive and hard to find. It also requires the cook to pound the veal pieces into thin cutlets suitable for a fast saute.
Thinly sliced boneless pork cutlets are economical substitutes. They are available in the supermarket and don’t skimp on the taste factor.
If you can’t find the cutlets pre-sliced, don’t be shy about asking. When I went to the Giant Food store in South York Plaza, Teresa in the meat department was more than happy to slice up cutlets to my exact specifications.
Because the pork cutlets are only about 1/4-inch thick, sauteing them takes minutes. The lemon and butter sauce is made in the same pan using the fond, the browned and caramelized bits remaining in the pan.
One ingredient that might be unfamiliar is capers. They are sold in jars packed in brine. Capers are the immature flower buds of a plant called Finders Rose also known as the caper bush. Think of them as little flavor bombs that will accent your sauce.
Because they are pickled, capers will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. They are a great addition to tomato-based sauces or any dish that needs a tangy, salty zip.
4 thin-cut boneless pork chops (about 1/2 pound)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup white wine
1 scant tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour and shake off the excess.
Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over a medium-high flame in a 12-inch skillet. Add the pork cutlets and fry on each side about 3 minutes until browned. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
Reduce the flame to low and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, wine, and lemon juice and zest. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir in the capers.
Spoon the sauce over the pork cutlets and sprinkle with parsley.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.