This is my kind of meal. It’s beautiful, seasonal, simple, and it tastes just perfect on a warm spring evening. Chicken paillard is a lovely one-dish wonder, and in this recipe the thinly pounded breasts get rubbed with tarragon and topped with a fingerling potato and dandelion greens salad that’s brimming with bold flavor. I love dandelion greens and encourage you to give them a try (but you can always swap them for arugula or spinach). In this recipe, the bitterness of the greens is tempered by buttery potatoes, a mustard- and honey-laced sherry vinaigrette and creamy goat cheese. Irresistible.
The salad on its own is actually a delicious vegetarian side dish, or a fabulous main course when topped with a fried or poached egg (oh lord, a runny egg yolk gets my heart going every time…).
The “paillard” portion comes in the form of pounded chicken breasts (this is actually one of the only dishes where I opt for the breast instead of the thigh). You can ask your butcher to pound the breasts out for you, but I prefer to do it myself so that I can control the thickness. First, pull off the strip of tenderloin from the bottom of the chicken breast (if you don’t know what this is, don’t fear; it will naturally show itself when pounding, separating from the rest of the breast). You can freeze the tenderloins for chicken fingers down the line, or cook them right alongside the paillards. I find that the easiest way to pound out chicken is to place it inside a large ziptop bag (don’t seal the bag). Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound the chicken starting in the middle and moving the mallet in an outward motion. Keep working your way around the breast until you have an even thickness. The breast might be an odd shape (I’m always reminded of continents: Africa! Australia!), but that’s ok.
To save on time, I usually pound out the chicken the night before or in the morning before work. That way, once it’s time to get dinner started, all I have to do is make the salad and sauté off the chicken, preferably with a glass of chilled rosé in hand…
Chicken Paillard with Fingerling Potato & Dandelion Greens Salad
- 1 pound fingerling or new potatoes , cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
- 1 teaspoon salt , plus additional for seasoning
- ½ medium red onion , very thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar , divided
- 4 cups coarsely chopped dandelion leaves and tender upper stems only (from 1 bunch)
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped pitted black kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon , divided
- 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil , divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 small boneless , skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 –inch thickness (turkey cutlets also work well)
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender but not falling apart, about 6-8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse the red onions with cold water and place them in a large bowl with the garlic. Add 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them and immediately add the hot potatoes to the bowl with the onions; toss well. Stir in the dandelion greens and olives.
- In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar with the grainy mustard, honey, 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon and 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Pour the dressing over the fingerling potato and dandelion greens salad and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Season each chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining chopped tarragon evenly over each at pat to adhere (both sides).
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to coat. Working in batches, sauté each breast until golden brown on each side, 2-4 minutes per side. Add additional oil to the pan as needed, and cover the cooked chicken as it comes out to keep warm. (You can also grill the chicken—before grilling brush the chicken on both sides with oil.)
- To serve, place a chicken breast on each plate. Mound the fingerling potato and dandelion greens salad over top. Crumble a nice amount of goat cheese over each, and serve.