Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Capers and Onions
Mediterranean flavors accent this easy and gluten-free recipe that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner.
This is an excerpt from my cookbook, Three Women in the Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Growing Up in St. Louis.
When I was a single mom, weeknight dinners could be a challenge. My daughter wasn’t picky or had any food allergies. It came down to time. Like many of you, any recipe that can be on the table in about half an hour is a bonus.
Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Capers and Onions is a quick skillet dinner that I often served with a pasta simply dressed with olive oil, butter, minced garlic, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
I realize not every kid is going to eat capers (green and unripened flower buds from the caper bush, also known as Flinders rose), but my daughter loved them. I remember one evening in the kitchen with my then elementary-school-aged daughter. I turned my back for a minute to get something out of a drawer or cupboard and she had swiped the caper jar; I caught her emptying the contents directly into her mouth. (Some kids steal cookies; mine grab pickled Mediterranean flower buds.)
This dish, which we’ve lovingly come to call “Caper Chicken,” is similar to an Italian piccata that includes capers, onions, lemon, butter and flour. But the caper brine and a bit of white wine replace the lemon, and there’s no flour in this recipe. I like it because it’s quick to prepare, has a surprising depth of flavor for so few ingredients, and is 425 calories per serving (without the pasta side). Sautéed greens would go well with this, as would a side of broccoli.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
1 pound chicken breasts
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon Italian (or Greek) seasoning blend
¼ teaspoon coarse pepper
¼ cup capers with about 2 tablespoons of brine from jar
1 small yellow onion, sliced
⅓ cup white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
Optional fresh parsley for garnish
Let’s get cooking. Wrap a chicken breast in parchment paper and gently pound thicker section to flatten. Repeat with each breast (I usually get three breasts to a package). Combine salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and sprinkle each breast (both sides) with mixture.
Put a large skillet on medium-high heat and bring to temperature before adding olive oil. Add sliced onion and cook until it just starts to soften. Add chicken and lightly brown breasts on both sides.
Add capers and wine. Cover and cook about 15 minutes or until chicken's juices run clear. Finish with swirling butter into pan for a quick sauce and garnish with fresh parsley or basil.
My family doesn’t like chicken breasts. What’s a good swap? Americans eat a lot of chicken—more than 97 pounds per capita in 2020—probably (in part, at least) because it’s versatile. You easily could swap out boneless and skinless chicken thighs for this recipe.
I didn’t use all the capers in my jar; how long to they last in the fridge? Capers that have been bottled in brine will keep up to a year when refrigerated. But you’ll probably make Caper Chicken another time before then! Capers also are good with salmon or tossed in pasta with garlic and lemon butter.
Does this recipe freeze well? Absolutely. If you’re a busy cook, make extra and freeze a portion to save for a later date.
I hope you’ll try our Caper Chicken. It works for a weeknight dinner, as well as a date night dish at home with your special one. Either way, you won’t be in the kitchen all night, and that’s a plus.