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How to Make Chicken Paillard in 5 Easy Steps

It’s ready in minutes!

<p>Rudisill/Getty Images</p>

Rudisill/Getty Images

Nostalgic, classic food is making a comeback, and most of these once again popular restaurant dishes are easy enough to master at home. Chicken paillard, French for “pounded” chicken, is a popular high protein option for lunch and dinner. Made from boneless, skinless chicken breast, chicken paillard is a thin pounded cutlet, simply seared on each side and often served with salad or crisp vegetables. Because the chicken is thin, it cooks quickly, making it efficient for a quick meal or even meal prep. Only seasoned with salt (and white pepper, if you want), chicken paillard is also a blank canvas for your favorite pan sauce, salad dressing, dip (chicken paillard is not above being dunked in ranch or Buffalo sauce) and more. 

Chicken paillard is an easy and healthy weeknight meal, and can look super impressive with some salad stacked on top—that’s restaurant level, and it takes less than 15 minutes to make in any home kitchen. One regular size chicken breast, cut and pounded, also yields two chicken paillards, so it can be a nice way to stretch the protein or decrease your meat intake, while supplementing with plant-based sides. Want a quick hack? Buy pre-sliced chicken cutlets at the grocery store or butcher, remove them from the refrigerator half an hour ahead of time, pat dry and follow the below instructions, no pounding required. However, we get that hammering the chicken can be a fun and safe way to get out any mid-week aggravations, so feel free to go that route too.

Related: 15 Easy Chicken Breast Recipes You Can Make in Less Than 40 Minutes

How to Make Chicken Paillard


Ready for a quick, crowd-pleasing and cathartic (you know you want to take it out on that meat) meal? Here’s how to make chicken paillard in just a few simple steps.

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast

  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil

Method:

  1. Slice the chicken breast in half, lengthwise. Set the chicken on a sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Top with a second sheet of plastic wrap, enough to cover each piece of chicken.

  2. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound out the chicken cutlets to an even thickness. At most, the paillard should be ½-inch thick, but can be as thin as ⅛ of an inch (that’s the thickness of an iPhone charger or two quarters on top of each other, for reference). Flip the chicken mid-way through pounding, to ensure even tenderization. If you don't have a meat mallet, a small frying pan can also work to flatten the meat.

  3. Once the meat is flat and even, pat dry with paper towels. Then, season on all sides with salt.

  4. Pre-heat a metal skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the oil, swirling to coat the bottom.

  5. Once the oil has heated through, add your chicken. Cook for two minutes on the first side, and then flip with tongs. The chicken should release evenly. Cook for an additional two to three minutes. Remove from heat and let rest. 

Related: How to Roast Chicken Breasts So They're Juicy Every Time

Chicken Paillard Tips

“Good chicken paillard starts with good chicken, evenly pounded and cooked just till done,” says Franklin Becker, chef of New York’s Press Club Grill and Point Seven. A successful chicken paillard isn’t hard to master, you’ll just want to follow a few rules.

Season with salt

Firstly, season the chicken exclusively with salt, before it hits the hot pan. “It is important that the seasoning takes place just before cooking,” says Becker. “Any additional seasoning, such as pepper or lemon, gets added at the end.” Additional spices on the thin chicken breast may burn, and give the chicken a bitter flavor, as well as tarnish the golden sear with burned spice residue.

Cook over even heat

Secondly, you’ll want to cook the chicken over even heat, which can be achieved on both a gas or convection stove. You don’t want the pan to fluctuate in temperature once the chicken hits it. “It is important to cook the paillard over even heat,” says Becker. “I like medium-high heat for two to three minutes per side, depending on how thick it is.”

Keep the rest of the meal simple

Chicken paillard is super versatile, and is often seen with a crisp salad on the side, making it a dish for all seasons, whether you’re going for winter radicchio or soft spring greens. Becker leans into a simple salad of baby arugula, fresh cherry tomatoes, and shaved pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano. Pile all the ingredients on the plate and drizzle with good quality olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. 

Related: 15 Easy Vegetable Side Dishes That Go With Everything

Get creative with your chicken

Though chicken paillard is quite often served with Northern European flavors, think French or Italian fare, the neutral chicken breast can truly be used in anything. Cut the paillard into slices and use it to fill a burrito or quesadillas. Drizzle peanut sauce or chili crisp on your paillard and serve it with streamy rice and cucumber salad. Embrace the adaptable protein and use the technique for a quick-cooking, juicy chicken in all your favorite dishes.

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