Chicken Paillard with Gem Salad and Toasted Almonds

Butterflying chicken breasts then using a mallet to flatten the meat increases the surface area, adds to presentation and allows for easier cooking and more even appearance. "Paillard" is a French cooking term and it refers to exactly that—pounding out with a mallet or butterfly-slicing a chicken breast to achieve a thinner piece of meat. Paillard also refers to using a mallet to thinly pound out beef, pork or even fish such as monkfish. For chicken breasts, I do both a butterfly and a little work with the mallet. I spilt the breast open and use a mallet to even out the thickness. To butterfly a chicken breast, use a sharp boning knife, utility knife or paring knife and place the breast vertically in front of you with the larger, full side facing the hand that holds the knife blade. Cut into and across the breast but not all the way through it, then open the breast like a book. Gently and evenly use a meat mallet to carefully pound the meat to 1/4-inch thickness.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 55 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
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Ingredients

Paillard:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and fine ground black pepper

About 2 tablespoons neutral oil

Salad:

A thin slice of butter

About 1/4 cup slivered or sliced blanched almonds

1 small shallot, peeled

1 small clove garlic, peeled and trimmed

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 round teaspoon Dijon mustard

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper

About 3 tablespoons EVOO

1/4 bulb fennel

1 small carrot 

5 to 6 cups gem lettuce such as gem romaine or gem red leaf or other neutral lettuce, coarsely chopped 

Directions

  1. For the paillard: On a rubber board, butterfly the breasts by cutting into and across them horizontally but not all the way through and opening them like a book. Evenly pound the chicken to 1/4 inch thickness and season with salt and fine ground black pepper.
  2. For the salad: Melt butter in a small (6-inch) skillet over moderate heat and add nuts. Toast, stirring occasionally, to golden and fragrant, then remove from heat, cool and chop.
  3. Grate or finely paste or paste shallot and garlic and place in a small mixing bowl, then add tarragon, vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon and salt and pepper. Drizzle in EVOO as you whisk to emulsify the dressing.
  4. Very thinly slice fennel with a knife, mandoline or wide tooth of a box grater, then use a vegetable peeler, to shave carrot into curls. Combine the fennel and carrot with lettuce in a salad bowl.
  5. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high to high heat with neutral oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add the chicken breast or breasts, cooking together or one at a time depending on pan size, turning once, about 5 minutes or until golden and just cooked through.    
  6. Dress salad.
  7. Place chicken on dinner plates and top with salad, exposing half the paillard, then top with chopped butter-toasted nuts.
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