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Cooking on television for the first time can be scary! Just ask chef Ryan Scott, bestselling cookbook author, two-time Emmy winner and owner of a powerhouse culinary company. He made his cooking debut on "Top Chef" in 2008, and as Rachael puts it, the dish—chicken piccata with gnocchi—went "waaay wrong." This recipe is his do-over, and he's definitely got it right now!
Pro Tips from Ryan: Be careful not to overmix the gnocchi dough or the cooked gnocchi will be dense and tough. Also, boil the gnocchi in two batches; you want the water to boil continuously so the pieces cook quickly without absorbing too much water and getting soggy and that won't happen if you overload the pot. If you want to save some gnocchi for another meal, freeze them in a single layer after shaping. Once frozen, transfer them to a zip-top bag and keep frozen until needed. They will take a little longer to cook from frozen, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lastly, amaze the vegetarians in your life by swapping the chicken with oyster or chanterelle mushrooms for a decadent meatless meal.
For more recipes from our "First Thing I Ever Made on TV" episode, check out Rachael's Shrimp with Sage and Pancetta, Josh Capon's 7-Time Award-Winning Burger and Brooklyn Beckham’s Squish Burgers.
For the gnocchi, rinse the potatoes under cold running water and pierce each one 4 to 5 times with a fork on each side. Place the potatoes on a plate and microwave for 6 to 8 minutes, stopping once in the middle to flip them over. They should be soft to the touch all over when they are done. Let the potatoes sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, for the piccata, slice the chicken breasts in half crosswise by slicing parallel to the cutting board, cutting each breast into two thin cutlets. Place all 4 cutlets between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap on the counter or cutting board, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Using a rolling pin or meat mallet, pound each cutlet until it is ½ inch thick. Set the chicken aside while you prepare the gnocchi.
Once the potatoes have cooled a little, remove the skin with a peeler or paring knife, being careful to remove just the skin and as little potato as possible. (If the potatoes are still too hot to handle, you can use a fork to hold them in place while you peel the skin.) Push the peeled potatoes through a potato ricer or strainer (you can also grate them with a fine cheese grater) directly onto a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet.
Spread out the riced/grated potato and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Using a dough scraper or spatula, chop, scrape and work the ingredients together. Add the egg yolk and mix in with the dough scraper or spatula. Lastly, add the flour and mix by hand until a dough forms, being careful not to overmix. It should be fairly smooth and not sticky, and easy to shape into a log.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and, working with 1 piece at a time, roll into a long log about ½ inch thick. Cut each log into ½-inch pieces and place on a tray with a little flour to prevent them from sticking together. Repeat with the remaining logs, spreading the gnocchi in a single layer on the floured tray. Place the tray in the refrigerator and bring 3 ½ quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
For the piccata, mix the flour and 1 teaspoon salt on a plate. Heat a large saute pan over high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Dredge both sides of each chicken cutlet in the flour mixture, carefully place in the hot pan and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. (Don't crowd the pan; you may have to brown the chicken in 2 batches. If you do, be sure to add more oil before the second batch.) Place the cutlets on a tray and set aside, reserving the pan for the gnocchi.
Prepare a large bowl of ice water. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt. Working in 2 batches, shake the flour off the chilled gnocchi, place in the boiling water and stir briefly. Boil the gnocchi until they are puffed up and springy to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a strainer or slotted spoon, immediately transfer the gnocchi to the ice water to stop the cooking. Once they are cool (about 2 to 3 minutes), transfer them to a paper towel-lined tray to dry. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
Heat the pan used to cook the chicken over medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan, add the gnocchi and saute until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the gnocchi to the tray with the cooked chicken and melt another 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan, reducing the heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and saute until cooked and just starting to turn golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine, stock, lemon juice and capers and increase the heat to high.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape any bits of browned gnocchi, garlic and chicken from the bottom of the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer uncovered for 2 minutes, reducing the liquid slightly. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and swirl it in. Add the chicken and gnocchi back to the pan and spoon the sauce over them while simmering for 1 minute to warm everything through. Turn the heat off and sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley. The cheese and capers add a good amount of salt, but if you like, finish the dish with a sprinkle of sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to give it that extra zing.