“My brother and I would savor our tomato juice for what seemed like an eternity. We lingered as long as possible at that booth. Long and narrow with booths on the right and tables on the left, “the restaurant” was dark except for the light streaming from the front window and the light streaming from the back through the kitchen doors. The booth that my brother and I sat it was located just outside the kitchen. Mamma would sit keeping an eye on the front door while folding napkins. Sitting facing the kitchen my brother and I were practically on top of each other, just barely tumbling out of the booth, peering into the kitchen. It was our chance to find out firsthand what really went on in there. Our mouths were wide open as we gazed through those doors. The only sound we heard was from the knives. We didn’t hear any voices what-so-ever. The knives sharp, shiny and gleaming were busy. Looking at each other we spoke only with our eyes, “OOOOOO AAAAHHHH!” We had to stay quiet or Mamma would think to bring us back upstairs with our cousins. We listened for the different sounds of chopping. Like the rhythmic sound of a beating drum, the parsley was prepared for the day. Zio’s knife made clicking sounds like a typewriter, chopping garlic. With speed and precision Papa’s knife had an even faster beat while slicing the mushrooms. While all this was going on there a slow methodical thumping sound as veal and chicken were pounded into scaloppini. All these sounds together resembled a symphony. Just when we heard it all, the sound of cymbals clashed when the parsley hit the sizzling garlic! It was early morning but my brother and I wished we could hear Mamma sing out in her beautiful soprano voice “I’m ordering!” and Papa answer in his baritone voice “Pick up!” Now that would complete the musical symphony inside “the restaurant”!
Thank you for taking a walk down memory lane with me with tales of “the restaurant”. Staying along the path of garlic and oil based recipes, I thought I would share the recipe for Piccata Sauce this time. You will find that “the restaurant” sauces are different from same named sauces prepared in other establishments. You may think you are ordering the same dish but don’t be surprised to find the flavor is not the same. In fact you will probably be disappointed. “The restaurant” sauces pack a lot of flavor and use ingredients not often found in typical recipes. In this recipe I am going to serve the Picatta Sauce over chicken but we also used this sauce over egg battered filet of sole, shrimp, and broiled salmon. Before I continue I want to inform you all that these recipes are from my husband Jim that were handed down from my dad. I am converting them into recipes for the home cook. Jim was the chef at “the restaurant” for a great part of the latter years. As you continue to walk down memory lane with me you will learn how this all came to be.
*The following recipe serves 2-3 people. We used skinless breast of chicken. Depending on the size of the breast…slice it into 3 horizontal slices . Take each slice and cut it in half. You will have 6 pieces. Sometimes the meat departments will sell the chicken already in large scallopini slices which you will still have to slice in half.
Take one of the slices and put it in a plastic gallon size freezer bag ( freezer bags are thicker than the regular storage bags) using the flat part of the meat cleaver pound 3-4 times on one side and then flip to pound the chicken on the other side. Do this to all the other 5 slices. Using plastic freezer bags makes it easier to keep your kitchen clean and sanitary.
Beat up three eggs in a bowl and put ½ cup of flour (you may need more) in another bowl. Salt the slices of chicken on both sides, dredge in flour and then in the beaten egg. These slices are then fried in a pan with vegetable oil until golden in color. Don’t worry if they aren’t cooked through because we finish cooking the chicken in the sauce. After all the chicken has been prepared we set it aside and make the Piccata Sauce.
Picatta Sauce (Chicken Scallopini ala Piccata)
(serves 2-3 people)
1 large clove of garlic thinly sliced
2Tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbs of chopped Italian parsley
4 Tbs salted butter
Juice of 1 lemon (yields ¼ lemon juice)
Pinch of red pepper
¼ sherry wine
2shakes of Tabasco sauce
1/8 tsp of salt
6 slices of prepared chicken scallopini (*see above paragraphs)
Saute garlic and oil until golden take off burner and throw in the chopped parsley.
Add the rest of the ingredients and put back on burner.
Add the prepared chicken scallopini.
Cook for 13 minutes over medium heat. The sauce will evaporate until about half the original amount.