Paillard refers to a lean and tender protein that has been thinly sliced and gently pounded. It is usually veal or, as in this recipe, chicken breast, but could be done to any tender protein, including some types of fish.
I like making paillard because it allows the chicken breast to cook very quickly and evenly and eliminates much of the risk of drying out. This recipe, which pairs the paillard with a fresh salsa made with olives and capers, will have you dreaming of summer.
Chicken Paillard with Mediterranean Flavours
5 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
12 pc sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers (drained if in brine; rinsed if packed in salt)
8-10 black olives (such as kalamata), pitted and halved
2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp chives, minced
1 tsp fennel pollen (optional)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 pieces boneless and skinless chicken breast, each approximately 10 oz (275 gr)
to taste salt and pepper
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and sauté until translucent. Remove from the heat and put the garlic and oil into a small mixing bowl. Add the sundried tomatoes, caper, olives, red onion, parsley, chives, fennel pollen, red wine vinegar, and 2 more tbsp of olive oil. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the paillards.
- Lay a chicken breast on a cutting board with the fatter end facing away from you. Using a sharp knife, slice the breast through the halfway mark horizontally, stopping about ½ inch away from the other side of the beast. Open the breast up like a book. Repeat with the other three breasts.
- On a separate cutting board or counter-top, spread out approximately a 12” x 12” layer of plastic wrap, wax paper, or parchment paper. Place an opened-up breast on the plastic, then lay a same-sized second sheet on top of the chicken. Using a mallet (or a heavy bottomed sauté pan), gently pound the breast until it is flattened and a uniform thickness (this is called a paillard). Take the paillard out of the layered plastic and set on a baking tray for seasoning. Repeat with the remaining breasts.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high. Season the paillards with salt and freshly ground pepper and rub 2 tbsp of olive oil over them all. When the pan is hot, lay the paillards in, two at a time. Sear for about two to three minutes per side, or until the chicken is golden on the outside and just cooked through. Transfer the cooked paillards to a warm plate while you cook the second batch.
- Once the chicken is all cooked, place each paillard in the centre of a plate. Divide the salsa between all four paillards, ensuring each gets a tbsp of the vinaigrette. Serve immediately with a salad or pan-roasted potatoes.