A High School Kid's Guide to Cooking for Your Girlfriend on Valentine's Day

Editor's Note: The original headline on this post was "The Manly Man's Guide to Cooking for Your Woman," but since our intern Jayson Swearington is still in high school, that didn't feel quite right. And yet you'll likely agree after reading this post about making chicken piccata for Valentine's Day that Swearington is quite a man, indeed. This may be our favorite recipe post ever at Chow Bella. Happy Valentine's Day, Jayson and Renisha.  

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and if you are a man with a girlfriend you have every right to panic. Our "better halves" can be so hard to please sometimes, which makes it nearly impossible to find a gift for them that they will actually appreciate.

Don't worry though, it can be done! I met my high school sweetheart last year, when I was a junior, and we celebrated our first anniversary last Saturday. Now, I don't claim to be a girlfriendologist, but I have managed to get by so far without any major issues or fights, and if there is one thing I know, it's that women love it when you cook for them.

I have seen it time and time again without fail, and I believe this mostly is due to a hormone in women called Romancelin. Romancelin is what causes women to want their boyfriends to be just like the men they see in all the love movies (at least on Valentine's Day). But if you are like most men, your gut churns and your body quivers at the very mention of Valentine's Day.

There is so much pressure to spend money to get the perfect gift for your significant other. But if your girlfriend is anything like my girlfriend, she would appreciate even the simplest gift if you make it yourself. All women love it when you cook for them; they are hard-wired to love sentimental gestures like that and when it comes to Valentine's Day, do not be afraid to be cheesy. In fact, the cheesier the better.

So, in the spirit of the season of love, here is a simple dish that will get the job done for you and have your ladyfriend madly in love.

The delicious meal I will be teaching you to cook today is chicken piccata with roasted red potatoes. This dish has a little bit of an Italian taste, but the lemon-y sauce gives it a new kind of taste that you and your boo are sure to love. This meal takes about an hour to cook. That seems long, but most of that hour is just waiting on the potatoes to be done. The actual chicken and the sauce take only about 30 minutes to cook, and preparing the potatoes to be baked doesn't take any longer than 10 minutes.

• 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (any salt and pepper will work)
• All-purpose flour, for dredging
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
• 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
• 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (for looks only)
• Red potatoes (or potatoes of preference)

Okay, let's start cooking . . .


The very first thing you're going to want to do is cook the potatoes, since they will take the longest.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut the potatoes into fourths to make small, almost bite-size, pieces and place them in a large bowl.

Pour olive oil over the potatoes and mix them in a large bowl until they are coated evenly. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper (garlic salt optional).

If you love garlic like me, chop three cloves of garlic into very small bits and mix them in the bowl with the mashed potatoes.

Pour the potatoes into a small glass baking dish coated with foil.

Cover it again with foil and place it in the over for 45 minutes to an hour. Don't forget to stir the potatoes every 20 minutes or so to make sure they are cooked evenly and don't stick.

Now let's cook some chicken!

When preparing the chicken, the hardest part is cutting the chicken into heart shapes; it sounds easy, but isn't. So the first thing I will do is show you how to cut the chicken.

Start by taking one chicken breast and placing the palm of your hand flat on the breast piece. Start cutting the piece directly in half from the outside toward the middle but do not cut all the way through. This is known at butterflying the chicken.

Once the chicken is successfully butterflied, cut off any extra edges in order to get the chicken in the shape of a heart. Finally cut a triangle into the top of the chicken to complete the heart.

Now season the chicken with salt and pepper (and garlic salt, optional) on both sides.

Dredge the chicken pieces in flour by pouring a thin layer of flour on a plate and dipping the front and back of the chicken in the flour. Try not to get too much flour on the chicken or it will come out like fried chicken.

Turn your stove on to medium/high heat and poor five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a deep pan. Throw about two tablespoons of butter in the pan with the olive oil and let it melt. Next chop two to three cloves of garlic into small bits and place them in the pan with the butter and olive oil. Let that simmer for a few moments and throw in your chicken.

The chicken should take around five minutes to fully cook. To determine whether it is cooked, make a small cut in the center of the chicken to see if it is pink. If it is pink, it is not yet cooked.

While the chicken is cooking, we will begin to prepare the the sauce . . .

Add one cup of chicken broth into a measuring cup.

Then, without removing the chicken broth, take your measuring cup and squeeze about a third of a cup of lemon juice into it (one whole lemon). (You can squeeze less if you want it to be a little less sour.)

Take a small handful of capers, rinse them, then throw them into the mix with the broth and lemon juice.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, take them out and place them aside for now. Without cleaning out the pan, add two more tablespoons of butter and broth that you just mixed in the measuring cup. Let this mix come to a slight boil. Make sure to constantly stir so that it doesn't burn. If you want, you can even throw a few basil leaves in there, mostly for show.

After the broth is done cooking, throw the chicken back in the broth and let it simmer there for flavor.

By this time, the potatoes should be just about done. Take them out of the oven once they are done, and now you are finished cooking! The only step left is to prepare the presentation.

Of course, you can present the dish however you would like. But in general, you want to let the potatoes and chicken sit in the sauce. For extra pizzazz, you can throw in a few chopped parsley leaves and maybe some basil.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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