I love the paillard. It’s easy to prepare, cook and eat. Kids love them.
The word paillard refers to a piece of meat pounded thin. You can make a paillard into satay pieces, a crispy milanesa, or you can stuff and roll the meat with your choice of filing. Paillard-ing works with pork, turkey, beef, and chicken.
My favorite benefit of paillard-ing is that thinning the meat gives the appearance of stretching serving quantity. If you cut a pounded out breast in half lengthwise, each person can get a decent looking piece of chicken. Your pocketbook will thank you, especially if you buy a chicken from the farmers market, which can be much more expensive than supermarket varieties.
Here are my rules for cooking the perfect chicken paillard:
1. Find a happy chicken.
Often I have to do two rounds of food shopping — one with my husband and one without, because farmers market prices astound him. But trust me, food sold at farmers markets is worth the cost. It tastes so much better that you won’t need as much quantity. So on your next trip to the farmer’s market, buy a chicken, or some chicken pieces.
2. Prepare your paillard with a knife before pounding it.
(Photos courtesy Don Reid at Serious Eats)
3. Pound to even thinness. Be gentle, you don’t want your chicken to turn to liquid.
4. Brine. Soak your paillard overnight (or, if you prefer, you can brine the chicken breasts before you cut and pound them) in a mixture of equal parts salt and sugar, as well as other seasonings and aromatics to your liking. I use lemon, garlic, parsley and thyme.
5. Coat in egg wash and Panko Breadcrumbs. Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs and they’re like heavy snowflakes. They’re the bomb! I seasoned my panko with salt, parsley and thyme, and a few gratings of parmesan cheese.
5. At this point you can either bake or pan fry your paillards. I prefer pan frying. Simply heat your preferred fat in a saucepan over medium high heat, add paillard and cook for about 3 minutes per side. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and lemon wedges.
What’s your favorite way to cook chicken breasts? Please let me know in the comments below!