How To Make Easy Chicken Paillard

updated Sep 6, 2022
Chicken Paillard Recipe

Chicken paillard is just as quick and easy to make as it is flavorful.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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chicken pillars finished on a plate
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Chicken paillard is a quick and easy method to cook chicken. Every time I make it, I’m reminded that I should do it way more often! The term “paillard” is an old-school French culinary method used to flatten or butterfly a boneless piece of meat. This breaks down the fibers in the meat, which means it cooks faster and more evenly (which can be tricky to do with a chicken breast). If you can only get large breasts, slice it in half horizontally and pound the halved breasts instead.

In this recipe, I’m paying homage to my favorite French restaurant in Manhattan: Pastis . Chicken paillard is almost always on their menu and includes Picholine olives and almonds. Picholine olives can be tricky to find, so Castrevaleno, although not French, will do the trick. The salty capers and lemony honey-mustard dressing adds a zinginess and brightness to the bitter frisée salad, and the toasted sliced almonds round it all off perfectly for sweetness and crunch.   

How to Serve Chicken Paillard

This recipe is served with a frisée salad and olive dressing, but possibilities are endless.

  • Brush it with tartar sauce, sprinkle it with breadcrumbs, and bake it.
  • Make chicken katsu and serve with curry sauce and steamed rice.
  • Grill it and serve with arugula salad, some shaved Parmesan, and a lemon wedge.
  • Make a sandwich with focaccia, garlic aioli, juicy slices of tomato, and fresh basil leaves.

I Don’t Have a Meat Mallet. What Can I Use Instead to Flatten Chicken?

  • The base of a heavy skillet or pan
  • Rolling pin 
  • The side of a large, heavy can
Credit: Tara Holland

Chicken Paillard Recipe

Chicken paillard is just as quick and easy to make as it is flavorful.

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup

    pitted Castelvetrano or Picholine olives

  • 2 tablespoons

    nonpareil capers, drained

  • 1

    small lemon

  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 2 teaspoons

    honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 4

    small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 7 ounces each)

  • 2 teaspoons

    garlic powder, divided

  • 1/3 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 7 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 4 cups

    frisée lettuce (about 4 ounces)

  • 1/3 cup

    sliced almonds, preferably toasted

Instructions

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  1. Prepare the following, adding them to a medium bowl as you complete them: Coarsely chop 1/2 cup pitted olives and 2 tablespoons capers. Finely grate the zest of 1 small lemon until you have 1 packed teaspoon. Juice the lemon until you have 1 tablespoon juice.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Stir to combine. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and whisk to combine.

  3. If you feel confident about pounding the chicken into thin pieces without cutting into it, proceed to the next step. If the chicken breasts are thick, slice into the thickest part of each breast horizontally (using a sweeping motion), leaving about 1/2-inch at the end and making sure you don’t cut all the way through. Open up the breast like a book.

  4. Working with 1 chicken breast at a time, place inside a gallon zip-top bag and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Pound with the flat side of a meat mallet, rolling pin, or small skillet to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Set the flattened chicken breast (paillard) aside and repeat with the remaining 3 breasts.

  5. Season each paillard on both sides with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Place 1/3 cup all-purpose flour in a pie plate or large, deep plate.

  6. Dredge 1 paillard in the flour until evenly coated, then pat to remove any excess flour. Place on a large plate and repeat with a second paillard. (Dredge the remaining 2 right before frying.)

  7. Heat 2 tablespoons the olive oil in a large (preferably 12-inch) cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the floured paillards in a single layer and cook until cooked through, lightly browned, and slightly crispy on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

  8. Transfer to a wire rack fitted in a rimmed baking sheet, then loosely tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

  9. Dredge the remaining 2 paillards in the flour. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Repeat frying the remaining paillards.

  10. When ready to serve, tear 4 cups frisée lettuce into bite-sized pieces into a medium bowl. Add half the olive dressing and toss to coat.

  11. Serve the paillards either on a bed of the salad or with the salad served on top. Spoon and divide the remaining olive mixture on top of each paillard. Garnish each with a heaping tablespoon of sliced almonds.

Recipe Notes

General tips: Rather than using a sawing action with the knife, try to use smooth sweeping strokes with your knife to open out the chicken breasts. If using large breasts, you can completely slice in half to create 2 paillards from one breast.

Substitutions: If you can’t find frisée, swap in baby arugula.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days.