Delicious low carb chicken meatballs in a buttery lemon caper sauce. This keto chicken piccata recipe will please the whole family! Also check out my travels to Napa Valley.
I am absolutely terrible at coming up with ideas for my husband’s birthday. In my defence, his birthday is 5 days after Christmas and with three young kids, we tend to be a little celebration-weary by that time. He always down-plays it and tells me not to worry but I do. Because I don’t want him to feel unappreciated. He shoulders much of the burden for this nutty family of ours and he deserves to be fêted accordingly. So this year I was very pleased with my little secret plan to whisk him on a kid-free getaway to Napa Valley. We’d always talked about going and now that we live on the West Coast, it’s so much more accessible.
We didn’t do it right around his actual birthday, because that time of year is a little too hectic. Instead we went at the end of February. Perhaps that seems like a strange time to go to Napa, when the grapevines are dormant and the weather could be iffy. But I maintain that the off-season is often the best time to travel. Things are less expensive, there are fewer people, and you tend to get much more individual attention from your hosts, guides, and servers. My husband and I are rather crowd-averse so being in popular places when they are quieter really suits us.
I’d done extensive research and I had targeted our locale and our accommodations extensively. We only had one full day, and two nights there, as friends were looking after the kids, but we managed to really pack things into our short stay. We stayed in Yountville, at the lovely Maison Fleurie, as I knew I wanted a small boutique inn for a more romantic feel. For atmosphere, you really couldn’t beat it. Our room was tucked away on the top floor, with a lovely large bed and the cutest little window seat area. And breakfast in the mornings did have a low carb/gluten-free option such as a crust-free quiche (but oh, the baked goods smelled divine…I managed to not succumb to temptation).
Although we love wine, we know very little about it so we let our inn hosts help guide us as to where to do wine tastings. Within the tiny town of Yountville (and it really is tiny!), there are so many tasting rooms, you really don’t know where to go first. And then there’s Napa itself and St. Helena, and Sonoma, all with hundreds of wineries and tasting rooms. So how on earth does one pick? But I’d been there in the fall for a press trip and had heard of a lovely winery up on a hill that looked back toward San Francisco. Since it was such a gorgeous day, we decided that would suit us just fine, and we made the trip back into the city of Napa to spend the morning at Artesa. The wine was wonderful, the views were glorious, and we sat soaking up a little sun in the patio area. We were desperate for that Vitamin D, coming from cold rainy Portland. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we ended up signing up for their wine club.
After lunch in Napa, we headed back to Yountville (only about 25 minutes away…if you do Napa Valley, I highly recommend renting a car) and walked up to Jessup Cellars for a wine and cheese tasting. Being the off-season, we got a two-for-one deal so it was only $30 for the two of us. I am always amazed at how different wine can taste based on what you put in your mouth just before or just after. The pairings were delicious and I even found myself liking the chardonnay, which is usually my least favourite wine. Our guide was a dear woman with such enthusiasm for all things wine and Napa that it was truly infectious. Before I knew it, my husband was signing us up for a second wine club! Jessup is also part art gallery so it’s lovely to sip at your wine and wander through.
Now let’s discuss the food, because this blog isn’t called All Day I Dream About Wine after all. And Napa Valley is known as much for its food as it is for the beautiful white and red liquids that flow so copiously. Yountville is home to one of the most famous restaurants in the world: The French Laundry. But truth be told, I had no intention of sitting down to a $300 prix fixe meal; that’s really just not my style. I considered eating at one of Thomas Keller’s other restaurants, such as Bouchon, but based on the menus, my husband and I made reservations for Brix instead. Sadly, I think we made the wrong decision there. The atmosphere at Brix was wonderful but the food was disappointing for such a high-priced restaurant. My duck breast had little flavour and my husband’s steak, while delicious, was something I could easily have cooked at home. The best thing we had was the grilled artichoke appetizer. It would not be a place I would recommend to anyone heading to the area.
I think sometimes impromptu decisions end up being the best. We had another set of reservations for our second night but based on recommendations from our wine guide at Jessup, we cancelled those and walked over to Bottega to sit at the bar and eat appetizers. We’d had our fill of wine so we ordered cocktails instead – mine was a light refreshing cucumber thing and they made it without any sugar at my request. I was able to stay mostly gluten-free although my “crispy soft-boiled egg” had some breading on it. My husband’s short rib meatballs had capers in the sauce, which suddenly inspired me to do a low carb piccata meatball recipe. It’s always funny how and when recipe inspiration strikes!
Honestly, the best food we had in Napa wasn’t at the expensive and renowned restaurants but at a burger joint called Gott’s Roadside in Napa itself. After our morning wine tasting at Artesa, we were hungry and in need of something hearty to offset the alcohol. I ordered a Texas Avocado burger, and they offered lettuce wraps instead of buns (I love it when places do that!). They also had a special that day of fried brussels sprouts. With hunger as an extra seasoning, that might have been the best meal I’d had in a long time and I absolutely devoured it. It was perfectly keto and it really satisfied.
We also had a great brunch on our way out the next day, again in Napa itself. We simply stopped at the Oxbow Market, where I grabbed an open faced chorizo omelet and some really good bacon (really good!) at Five Dot Ranch. Then it was back into San Francisco to catch our flight home, back to the rain and to the kids. Really, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The sun was shining, the mornings were cool and brisk (perfect running weather), the days were warm, the wine was delightful, the people were friendly, and the food was delicious. It was a perfect 45th birthday present for my husband and I think we will look back fondly on our little winter getaway in Napa Valley.
And we have many bottles of wine in our basement to show for it!
Chicken Piccata Meatballs
- 2 lbs ground chicken dark meat, if you can find it OR 1 lb ground chicken and 1 lb ground pork
- ½ cup ground pork rinds OR ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons salted butter divided
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ lemon thinly sliced
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon drained capers
- ¼ cup salted butter cut into 4 pieces
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, combine the chicken, pork rinds, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well and form by hand into 36 meatballs.
- Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake 15 minutes.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add half of the meatballs and brown all over, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining butter and remaining meatballs.
- In the same skillet, add the shallot and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth and lemon slices and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened and reduced by half, about 7 minutes.
- Add lemon juice and capers, then add remaining butter in 4 pieces. Stir until melted and smooth. (If you want a thicker sauce, whisk in ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum right before serving). Remove the lemon slices and season with salt and pepper.
- Return the meatballs to the pan and toss to coat. Serve over cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles.
Total fat: 20.36g
Calories from fat: 183
Total dietary fiber: 0.25g
Made these for a party and everyone loved them. So good!
Shaun D Barker says
I made this last night, it was amazing, thank you!
We stayed at the Maison Fleurie about a quarter century ago. I seem to remember Teddy Bears in all the rooms back then. I remember a tiny, but full of charm room. And brought home a cup that we still have. Without it, I might have forgotten that little gem!
Looking forward to trying the recipe!
No teddy bears in any of the rooms anymore… thank goodness. 🙂
Susan Dunham says
Could this be done as a meatloaf instead of meatballs?
I just wanted to say that this has quickly become one of my husband’s and my favorite meals. I double the sauce and we eat it over mashed cauliflower. Thanks so much for the terrific recipe!
So happy to hear it!
Rachel Wiles says
Do you brown the meatballs before or after you bake them?
Jane Baines says
What a fun read! You write so well, it almost made me feel like I was along for the trip! So thanks for that.
I made the piccata meatballs using 1/2 ground chicken & 1/2 ground pork. I also used the pork rind option as a filler. Carolyn, you have a WINNER here! I want to say that this recipe is now printed out and stashed in my “go-to” recipes. Oh my! These meatballs are SO good. I had some left over so in the second iteration, I stir fried some cabbage strips in a Tuscan flavored olive oil/butter. I threw in a small handful of green onions. (counting the carbs accordingly) Once the cabbage got semi-soft, I threw in the meatballs, put the lid on and let it all heat up together. I liked this concoction even better than the one that I’d used in the first go-round: cauliflower rice.
Thanks for all you do to bring such wonderful foods to the LCHF lifestyle. I’ve tried lots of your recipes and there’s not a single one that I think is lacking in a thing! Reading your blogs and trying your recipes has helped me transition to the low-carb way of eating while affording me a way to continue to do some gourmet cooking and trying new & different ingredients.
Lastly, my sincere condolences to you and your family for the loss of your father.
I also live in the Napa Valley! Saint Helena. We do have some very fun restaurants and Bouchon is wonderful. Please tuck away a lunch at Auberge on the deck overlooking the Napa Valley and the food is exquisite, the view world class.
That is so great you were just here.
You have a wonderful blog and I am making your Multi-Purpose Low Carb Bread right now. We have a road trip coming up next week and I want to find a good travel bread. Looking forward to this one.
Making this delicious sounding dish tonight! How large should each meatball be? And can I sub something else (i.e. almond flour) if I have no pork rinds?
Yes, the recipe says you can use almond flour. They are a little over 1 inch each when you form them.
About what size are the meatballs? Not sure how to divide it into 36! Also, any sub for the pork rinds? Maybe almond flour? Thanks!
Su R says
The recipe says pork rinds OR almond flour
I’m glad you got to try Gotts, it really is the best. Next time you come down you should try the Sonoma county side like Healdsburg & Santa Rosa. It is less touristy and full of seriously amazing wine & food.
I will keep that in mind!
Becky Potterbaum says
I love Chicken Piccata! Thanks for this re-version! And I especially enjoyed seeing a glimpse into your personal life. That’s fun. I’m glad you got to get away. But I hope you can enjoy a bit of a longer getaway soon!
Sooooo love your blog. I promote it ALL the time. Please don’t weary in your well-doing! 🙂
Thanks, Becky! I love my blog and I love the recipes so no worries there!
hi Carolyn……this had to be one of the most interesting blogs I have read…….never being around that area I found it captured me and I did not think once about the recipe coming at the end…….thanks so much for taking me away with you……..question……you often mention pork rinds…….exactly what are you speaking of…….here in midland I only see packages of pork rinds like you do potato chips, etc…….they I doubt are what you are using?? also would it interfere with the recipe too much if I omitted the capers??…….anxiously looking forward to your reply…….edna
I see you didn’t get an answer, but yes, the pork rinds you see in the chip aisle is exactly what she means. Also called bacon puffs, or chicharones. They are a great substitute for bread crumbs in many low carb recipes.
Napa is beautiful in the winter! I always tell people to visit at that time of year. Glad you had a great time. Love reading your blog and all the fabulous recipes!