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  • Suzanne Yearley

Ease Back into Cooking: Chicken Paillard, Four Ways

December 5, 2017

Suzanne Yearley



I have missed you. Truth be told though, I haven’t missed the kitchen as much as usual. Since I am confessing, I don’t even have Thanksgiving as an excuse as this year we were traveling. I guess that I just needed a break. After Thanksgiving hosting, preparing and eating, you might need one too. I am easing back in slowly. This recipe for Chicken Paillard, Four Ways is exactly what I feel like eating after over-indulging. It is also almost universally appealing and fairly simple.  I hope that you feel the same way. Serve it for brunch, lunch or dinner, and feel free to vary the salad ingredients with the season and what is in your refrigerator.


Many of you know that I love thin-sliced chicken for its quick cooking and versatility. Here there is the extra step of pounding the chicken thin. I was skeptical whether the work was worth it, but it is. The chicken stays tender, juicy, and flavorful. The drawback is it can be unattractive, but these colorful salads camouflage the uneven edges. Make sure to read the recipe carefully for how to approach this step. The good news is that the pounding can be done ahead if you wish, and the chicken stored between sheets of parchment or saran wrap in the refrigerator and pulled out when ready to cook.


Secrets to Success:

  1. Flavor the chicken simply or elaborately when marinating. Use nothing more than a thin coating of olive oil, salt and pepper or add dried herbs, spices or chilis and finish with citrus juice after cooking.

  2. Make sure your cast-iron grill pan, skillet or outdoor grill is very hot and clean before cooking the chicken. This will prevent sticking and flare ups.

  3. To create beautiful grill marks: cook the chicken for 1 ½-2 minutes, then rotate 90 degrees, cooking for another 1 ½ to 2 minutes on the same side before flipping. Repeat on the second side.

  4. Before cooking on an outdoor grill, lightly oil the grill grates. No additional oil is needed when cooking in a cast-iron grill pan or skillet.

  5. Best when made and served immediately.

  6. Wash and dry all greens and herbs carefully. No one likes a soggy salad.

  7. For best results, store the greens or herbs in the refrigerator in open plastic bags or containers with some paper or linen towel. This allows the air to circulate and soaks up excess water.

  8. Toasting nuts maximizes their flavor. Bake nuts in a single layer on a foil lined sheet tray in a  pre-heated 325^f oven (I use my toaster,) for 5-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool.


Chicken Paillard, 4 Ways:


Ingredients:

4 boneless chicken breast halves

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 garlic clove, pressed in a garlic press, optional

2 teaspoons of dried thyme, oregano or rosemary, or desired seasonings, optional

salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

½ of a lemon, optional

one recipe salad (see four variations below)



Create the paillards:

Cover a cutting board with a sheet of parchment or saran wrap large enough to tuck underneath the edges of the cutting board. Place the chicken breast upside down (what was once the skin-side should be against the plastic wrap) in the middle of the covered cutting board. In the center of the chicken breast, carefully cut vertically straight down until you are a ½” from cutting through. Then turn the knife sideways and slice outward (once again stop before cutting through the chicken) to open up a flap in the chicken. Repeat on the other side.  When you are finished you should be able to open up the chicken like a flattened book. (See picture 4 above.) Now remove the parchment or saran from under the corners of the cutting board, and fold it over the chicken breast so the chicken is sandwiched between the two layers.  Carefully (using a skillet-bottom, rolling pin, mallet or even a wine bottle)  pound the chicken to a ¼” thickness without breaking it.  Transfer the chicken to a pyrex dish to “marinate,” and repeat, reusing the parchment or plastic each time.


Alternately, transfer the chicken between the parchment or plastic to a plate or container and repeat, using a fresh sheet of parchment or plastic for each piece of chicken.  Chicken can be held, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 hours. Leave at room temperature for 15 minutes before cooking.


Cook the paillards:

In a dish large enough to hold the chicken, gently toss the chicken with the olive oil,  and the garlic and herbs, if using. Set aside while you heat the grill or pan.  Preheat a cast iron grill pan, cast-iron skillet or outdoor grill over high heat until very hot. Season the chicken on each side generously with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side or until it is done. (To create pretty grill marks, see Secrets for Success above.) Squeeze the lemon juice, if using, over the chicken. Remove to one of four plates, and top with the salad of your choice.


Serves 4.




Greek Mountain Salad with Feta and Tomatoes

Adapted from Deborah Madison


Ingredients:

2 cups baby arugula

1 cup baby spinach

1 cup baby lettuce

2 scallions, thinly-sliced

fresh dill sprigs

¼ cup parsley leaves, optional

1 Persian cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into half moons

a small handul of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Freshly-squeezed lemon juice to taste (1/4-1/2 lemon)

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Crumbled feta


Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the greens, herbs, cucumber and tomato. Toss with the olive oil. Squeeze the juice from a ¼ of a lemon over the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust, adding more oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper as necessary. Stir in crumbled feta, if using. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.




Roasted Pepper and Arugula Salad


Ingredients:

½ cup roasted, marinated peppers

1 box baby arugula

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Freshly-squeezed lemon juice to taste (1/4-1/2 lemon)

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Parmigiano reggiano, optional


Preparation:

Top the chicken paillard with ¼ of the peppers. In a large bowl, toss the arugula with the olive oil. Squeeze the juice from a ¼ of a lemon over the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust, adding more oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, as necessary. Top with parmigiano shaved with a vegetable peeler, if using. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.




French Garden Greens


Ingredients:

A generous pinch of Kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon minced shallots

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 cup grape seed or extra-virgin olive oil

1 head each red oak and Bibb lettuce, washed well, spun dry and cut into bite-size pieces

1-2 radishes, scrubbed and thinly-sliced

1 Persian cucumber, halved lengthwise, and sliced into half-moons

1 avocado, peeled and cut into chunks

snipped chives, optional


Preparation:

Mix the mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar in a non-reactive bowl. Slowly add the oil in a stream, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Whisk in the water. Alternatively, combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar, close tightly with a lid and shake vigorously until it has a creamy consistency. **Remember to add the oil a little at a time for proper emulsification.



To assemble the salad, pour the vinaigrette into a large bowl. Add the lettuces, radishes and cucumber and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chives and avocado. Mix thoroughly and serve.

Serves 4. 




Harvest Salad


Ingredients:

2 teaspoons Dijon or honey Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

6 tablspoons of walnut oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil

salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

1 head each red oak and Bibb lettuce, washed well, spun dry and cut into bite-size pieces

or

6-8 cups baby arugula (1 box)

1 or 2 ripe Red Pears, washed, dried and sliced (use only one pear if using the pomegranite seeds)

¼ cup pomegranate seeds, optional

4-6 ounces of  Stilton or other Blue Cheese, crumbled or 1cup shaved Parmigiano Reggianno

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly-chopped


Preparation:

Mix the mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar in a non-reactive bowl. Slowly add the oil in a stream, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Alternatively, combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar, close tightly with a lid and shake vigorously until the dressing has a creamy consistency. **Remember to add the oil a little at a time for proper emulsification.

To assemble the salad, pour the vinaigrette into a large bowl. Add the lettuces and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly, adjust the seasoning as necessary, and serve.


Serves 4. 



Tags:

chicken

dinner

lunch

brunch

salad

gluten-free

good for leftovers

grill

weeknight

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