We’ve gone straight from winter to summer, with temperatures climbing high into the eighties last week. Hey, I’m not complaining, although I’m not quite ready to don shorts and skirts in public (lest my legs get mistaken for lightsabers). Our grill is now back in action, after a scrub-down by James—apparently it made quite a cozy mouse den this winter (eek! I have an inexplicable fear of mice). In any case, it’s been hot out, and we’ve finally been able to break in our back deck dining set, which is where we eat dinner practically every evening in the warm months. One of our favorite springtime meals is Chicken Paillard with Fingerling Potato & Dandelion Greens Salad. Chicken breasts get pounded thin and are then quickly sautéed and piled high with a vibrant spring salad. Since the kitchen has been so hot (particularly since I refuse to switch out my jeans for more practical wear), I decided to take the meal outdoors. Instead of searing the chicken breasts on the stove, I tossed them on the grill. I also changed up the salad to include thinly shaved fennel, baby arugula, golden raisins, black olives, toasted almonds and feta cheese. The sweetness of the raisins and the crunch of the almonds, paired with the saltiness of the black olives and freshness of the fennel, make a perfect counterpoint to the smoky grilled chicken. It’s springtime (which feels like summertime) perfection.
Grilled Chicken Paillard with Fennel, Arugula & Potato Salad
- ¼ cup golden raisins (sultanas)
- 1 pound fingerling or new potatoes , cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
- 1 teaspoon salt , plus additional for seasoning
- 1 small shallot , thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar , divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon , divided
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 small boneless , skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 –inch thickness (chicken or turkey cutlets also work well)
- Grapeseed or vegetable oil for brushing
- 1 large fennel bulb , halved then very thinly sliced on a mandoline or with a sharp knife
- 2 cups baby arugula
- ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives , coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 4 ounces feta or goat cheese
- In a small bowl, cover the golden raisins with hot tap water and set aside. Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of 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, place the shallots and garlic in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the 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 shallots and garlic; toss well. Drain the raisins and throw them into the bowl as well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of Sherry vinegar, grainy mustard, honey, 2 teaspoons of the chopped tarragon and the extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high (alternatively, the chicken can be cooked in batches in a large skillet).
- Brush the chicken breasts on both sides with a bit of oil, then season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped tarragon evenly over both sides of the chicken breasts.
- Lightly brush the grill with oil. Grill the chicken until golden on each side and cooked through, about 2-4 minutes per side.
- To finish the salad, add the fennel, arugula, black olives and sliced almonds to the bowl with the potatoes. Toss with dressing to coat (you won’t need it all). Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- To serve, place a chicken breast on each plate. Mound the salad over top. Crumble a nice amount of feta or goat cheese over each, and serve with additional dressing on the side.