Chicken paillard is an Italian classic recipe that's easy and perfect for grilling season: thin cutlets of boneless chicken marinated in lemony dijon vinaigrette, grilled, and topped with arugula salad.
Chicken paillard is regular summer weeknight dinner at my house. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are pounded thin so It only takes a few minutes on a hot grill to cook them to juicy and tender perfection. The Italian way is to mound a heap of lemony arugula salad on top. The flavors are bright and summery: peppery arugula, sweet ripe cherry tomatoes, savory grilled chicken and a lemon dijon vinaigrette to tie everything together. For an extra treat, serve chicken paillard with crusty bread and chilled white wine.
If you don't have a meat mallet (I didn't for years) you can easily flatten a chicken breast using a rolling pin. Hold it by one handle and gently pound the chicken breast, starting at the middle and working towards the edges. Don't pound too hard or the chicken will break. The goal is to get the chicken to a uniform thickness of ¼ to ⅓ of an inch.
Once you've pounded the chicken breasts into thin "paillards," use a portion of the lemon dijon vinaigrette to marinate them. They need at least a half an hour in the marinade.
I first learned about chicken paillard in Italy. You're going to hate this story, but here goes: As a teenager I travelled to Italy with a girlfriend and we dieted the whole time. Not a bite of pasta or bread for 10 days while touring Rome and Florence. We basically lived on peaches, arugula, and veal or chicken paillard. Despite the fact that I had a mild starvation headache the whole week, we had an enjoyable trip, seeing the sights and shopping. If you are thinking "who in their right mind would travel all the way to Italy and not eat the food?" I am wondering the same thing even though that person was me! Despite serious missed opportunities for pasta and prosciutto and such, the summer peaches were spectacular and so was the chicken paillard with arugula salad.
Some positives came out my dieting in Italy. Firstly, when I look back on some of my teenage choices it makes me a more sympathetic parent to my own teenagers and their "interesting" choices. Secondly, I discovered my love for chicken paillard. Lastly, it gave me the resolve never to miss out on any delicious food, anywhere, ever again.
Here's the chicken paillard recipe. I can't wait for you to try this. If you do, I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print