Chicken Paillard With Black Olive Tapenade
Paillard is the French word for a thin slice of meat that cooks quickly. (Sometimes, a thicker piece of meat is pounded with a mallet to make it thinner.) This recipe is an easy way to make a chicken paillard without much pounding. Essentially, you butterfly a boneless, skinless chicken breast, slicing horizontally to make a flat, heart-shaped breast, then pound it lightly. Unfortunately, a chicken breast is often dry and tasteless, but it doesn’t have to be. Seasoned and cooked correctly, it should be tasty and moist. A dab of tapenade, a traditional Provençal black olive paste, makes a perfect accompaniment.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1cup pitted Niçoise olives
- 4anchovy fillets
- 3garlic cloves, grated
- 1tablespoon capers, well rinsed
- 3tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
- ½teaspoon orange zest
- ½teaspoon lemon zest
- Pinch of red-pepper flakes
- ½cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 8 ounces each
- Salt and pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1tablespoon roughly chopped thyme, plus a few sprigs
- 8wide strips of lemon zest, from 1 medium lemon
- 5ounces wild arugula (about 4 handfuls)
- A piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino Romano, for shaving
- Lemon wedges
Step 1Make the tapenade: In the bowl of a food processor, place olives, anchovy, garlic, capers, parsley, orange zest, lemon zest, red-pepper flakes and olive oil. Pulse several times to make a rough paste, then scrape down sides of the bowl and purée for about 30 seconds more. Alternatively, use a knife to finely chop ingredients, transfer them to a bowl and stir in the olive oil. You should have about 1 cup of tapenade, more than you need for this recipe. (Refrigerate the remainder for up to 2 weeks.)
Step 2Prepare the chicken: Working one at a time, lay chicken breast on a sturdy cutting board. With a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut breast horizontally in half, almost, but not completely. Open the breast like a book; it will be a heart-shaped piece of meat. Lay the breast between two resealable plastic bags and lightly pound the breast to 3/8- to 1/2-inch thickness. Don’t pound too hard, or the meat may tear. When all breasts are ready, transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet in one layer.
Step 3Season each breast on both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with chopped thyme, and rub seasoning into meat, coating evenly with oil. Scatter thyme sprigs and lemon zest strips over. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
Step 4Set oven to 400 degrees. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat, and lightly coat bottom with olive oil. When oil is hot, lay two chicken breasts top-side down in skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn over and cook 1 minute more. Transfer breasts to a clean baking sheet, browned-side up. Repeat with the other breasts.
Step 5Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes, until firm to the touch. Remove from oven, keep warm and let rest 5 minutes. Remove and discard thyme sprigs and lemon zest strips.
Step 6Put arugula in a bowl, and dress very lightly with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place a handful of dressed greens on each of four plates. Place cooked paillards alongside. Smear 1 tablespoon tapenade across the surface of each breast. With a vegetable peeler, shave some cheese over arugula. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.