Henry County’s Cooking with Capers

By Jimmie Batchelor
Special to the Times

I heard some news from a chef on the Dr. Oz Show, “2015 is going to be the year of the caper.” I never knew those tiny pea-sized gems are so power-packed. We will be seeing more health articles, recipes and cooking shows featuring them.

Special photo

Capers are actually part of a flower bud, which grows in the Middle East, Mediterranean, North Africa, Southern Europe, Turkey and California. They are handpicked, being too small and delicate for a machine. All of the bud can be eaten, but the caper is inside a berry. Capers can be found in the pickle/olive section of your grocery store. If you have never cooked with capers, now is the time to be adventurous!

Capers are packed in a salty brine. If too salty for your taste, just rinse them under running water, spread on paper towel to dry. At 2 calories per caper, they are an antioxidant, help control blood sugar, low in cholesterol, packed with protein, vitamins A, E, C, and K. How is that for a compact powerhouse?

Here are a couple of sauces using the caper, especially good over fish and chicken and my favorite recipe for Chicken Piccata.

Chicken Piccata

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, 1 1/2 lb. total
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup flour
Salt and pepper
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chicken stock or dry white wine
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup brined capers, drained
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Cut chicken breast halves horizontally, butterflying them open. If large, you may cut into pieces. If the chicken is still thick after butterflying, put between two pieces of plastic wrap and with a meat hammer, pound them to 1/4 inch thickness.

Mix together flour, salt, pepper and Parmesan. Dredge pieces of chicken in flour mixture until well coated. Heat oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in large skillet on medium high heat. Add half to the chicken pieces, do not crowd pan. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken and reserve on plate. Cook rest of chicken as above and remove from pan. Cover with foil to keep warm while you prepare sauce.

Add chicken stock or wine, lemon juice and capers to the pan. Scrap up brown bits, stirring into the sauce. Reduce sauce by half. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Plate chicken and serve with the sauce poured over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley.