For an easy weekend supper, nothing comes together quicker than a chicken paillard. A paillard, (pi-YAR) is a boneless piece of meat, in this case, chicken that has been pounded flat and sauteed or grilled quickly. Actually the term paillard has fallen out of favor in the cooking world and has been replaced with the word escalope (es-kuh-LOHP). In English we would refer to it as a “scallop”, not of the seafood varety of course.
I couldn’t find the word paillard in The Food Lover’s Companion or in James Peterson’s exhaustive work, Glorious French Food. But everyone, from Rachael Ray to Daphne Oz of “The Chew” to Martha Stewart has recipes online for chicken paillards, so it’s worth keeping that definition under your hat.
Remove any tenderloins or extra fat before wrapping the breast in plastic wrap. Then pound out the meat with the flat side of a mallet to an even thickness. Pound from the fattest part of the breast outward to avoid tearing the meat.
Another French term is very important to this recipe, mise en place (MEEZ ahn plahs). Translated, this means “to put in place”. Start by reading the recipe all the way through, then check to see that you have all the ingredients necessary, or at least a reasonable substitute. I chose to use tarragon in this recipe, the original used dill. The tarragon in our garden is starting to fill in nicely and it’s anisey flavor is a natural with chicken dishes. All of the other ingredients should be measured out, prepped and ready to go, garlic sliced, lemon zested and juiced and vegetables cleaned and cut to size. In less than fifteen minutes of cooking time you can have a meal on your table that is easy and elegant.
Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic and Tarragon
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, tenders removed
- 1/3c all purpose flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4c extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2c lower salt chicken broth or chicken stock
- 6 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 large lemon, finely grated to yield 1t zest and squeezed to yield 3T juice
- 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 medium orange or yellow pepper cut into 2-inch strips
- 2T chopped fresh tarragon
- 2T unsalted butter, cut into 3-4 pieces
- Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to an even 1/4-1/2 inch thickness
- In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, 2t salt and 1t pepper.
- Heat 2T oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge 2 paillards in the flour, shaking off any excess, and place in the skillet. Cook, flipping once, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and paillards
- Add the garlic to the skillet and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for about a minute. Add the chicken broth and lemon zest, scraping up any browned bits from the skillet. Add the asparagus, pepper, chicken and any accumulated juices. Nestle the chicken pieces into the liquid. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter or plates.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, tarragon and the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the chicken and serve.