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"We really enjoy California Pizza Kitchen and always end up ordering pizza. But I tried something else last time, the chicken piccata. The sauce is fabulous! It's creamy but not too thick."

In this slightly unusual preparation, the sauce is made in the pan after the chicken is cooked. Flour remaining in the pan from the chicken thickens the sauce to just the right level. The cream makes the sauce rich but not pasty.

If you prefer not to serve sauce-coated lemon slices, save the sliced lemon for garnish. Instead, add about one teaspoon of grated lemon zest to the sauce. If using both the zest and juice from a fresh lemon, be sure to grate the zest first, and then juice the fruit.

California Pizza Kitchen uses Chablis for this sauce. The general rule of thumb is to cook with a wine that you enjoy enough to drink. Any dry white wine can be used in this recipe, including leftover champagne from a holiday party.

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California Pizza Kitchen

Multiple locations

Chicken Piccata > California Pizza Kitchen

Yield: 4 dinner or 8 lunch servings

1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup light-tasting olive oil, divided

6 tablespoons minced shallots

1 to 2 tablespoons minced garlic

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (total about 2 pounds; see tester's note)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper or to taste

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter

4 to 6 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra sprigs for garnish

1 to 1 1/2 pounds spaghettini

1 large lemon, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1. Start the sauce. Place a heavy nonstick pan over medium heat; add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. When hot, add shallots and garlic, stirring to prevent scorching; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine; simmer about 5 minutes. Stir in stock, lemon juice and 2 to 3 teaspoons salt to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour sauce through a strainer and discard solids. Return liquid to the pot, set aside and keep warm.

2. Prepare chicken. Place chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap; pound to about 1/2 inch. In a shallow plate, stir together flour, seasoned salt, basil and white pepper. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour, shaking off excess.

3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat half of the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Add half the chicken and cook until golden brown on one side, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and chicken.

4. Whisk the cream into the sauce. Stir into the skillet, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Stir in black pepper, butter, capers and chopped parsley; cook and stir over medium heat for a minute or two, just until heated through. Taste; add salt if necessary. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente.

5. Drain pasta and return to pot. Stir sauce and lemon slices into pasta; toss well to coat.

6. To serve, arrange chicken on serving plates, mound pasta alongside, and drizzle any remaining sauce over chicken. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve immediately.

Tester's note: Most markets sell chicken breast halves that weigh 7 to 8 ounces. For the smaller chicken pieces called for here, pound as directed or, before dredging, cut each piece in half horizontally. (Place chicken on cutting board, place the palm of one hand flat on the chicken, then slice in half, holding the knife parallel to the cutting board.) The thinner pieces will cook quickly.

Per lunch serving: 730 calories; 29g fat; 13g saturated fat; 120mg cholesterol;

38g protein; 76g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 3g fiber; 1,150mg sodium; 60mg calcium.

Adapted from "California Pizza Kitchen Family Cookbook" (Wiley, 2008)