Piccata is an Italian word, the feminine form of the word piccato, meaning “larded”. It is also spelled picatta or pichotta. It is a translation of the French pique, participle of piquer. When used in reference to a way of preparing food, particularly meat or fish, it means “sliced, sautéed, and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter and spices”. The best known dish of this sort is chicken piccata, using chicken, but the term is also used with veal (veal piccata). Piccata is a method of preparing food: meat is sliced, coated, sautéed and served in a sauce. The dish originated in Italy using veal (veal piccata). In the United States, the best-known variant is chicken piccata. The recipe has a meatless adaptation using seitan (seitan piccata).
A chicken breast is butterflied or sliced along its width. It is flattened with a tenderizer between two pieces of wax paper. It is seasoned and dredged in flour before being browned in butter or olive oil. The sauce is made using the pan drippings. Lemon juice and white wine are added and reduced. Shallots or garlic can be added with capers and slices of lemon. After reduction, butter is stirred in to finish the sauce.
In the United States, it is usually served with a starch, such as pasta, polenta, or rice. In Italy, veal piccata is a secondo and would be served after the pasta (or other starch) course.