This foolproof chicken paillard recipe is easier than most thanks to a simple trick for prepping the chicken. Dipped in a delicious shallot pan sauce and served with a flavorful arugula salad, this is one glorious weeknight meal that will feed a crew!
What is Chicken Paillard?
Paillard is a French term for quickly grilling or sautéeing a “scallop” of meat. A scallop of meat is simply a thin pounded piece of veal or chicken that's often butterflied and/or pounded.
Butterflying is important for creating thinner pieces of meat which cook faster and more evenly. Pounding meat both tenderizes and creates thinner cuts that cook faster, which is important for retaining moisture.
Chicken and veal are traditional, but the paillard technique will work for other tender cuts of meat like pork tenderloin and beef tenderloin.
I have not tested this recipe on the grill or using a grill pan. Feel free to try it either way to make this a grilled chicken paillard!
How to Cut Chicken Paillard (step-by-step images)
I prep my chicken paillard a bit differently than most traditional recipes which call for slicing the chicken breasts in half horizontally.
Instead, I prefer to cut the chicken breasts in half crosswise to create two halves, one that’s naturally thicker and one that’s naturally thinner. I then slice the thick halves in half horizontally to create two thinner halves. I find this method creates more evenly-thick pieces of chicken which creates more evenly-cooked chicken.
Tips for Making Perfect Chicken Paillard
Oil: I recommend using grapeseed oil because it’s healthier than canola or vegetable oil. Grapeseed oil is a great option for pan searing because it has a higher smoke point than olive oil. This means it can be heated to a higher temperature without smoking.
Pound, don’t beat: when pounding chicken it’s important to gently pound and push against the chicken instead of heavily pounding down repeatedly which will tear the chicken.
Pan: it’s important to use a large skillet which will encourage searing and browning (aka not steaming). The higher-quality the pan the better because it will promote even heating. When adding the chicken to the skillet, lay it working away from you. This will ensure you don’t get splattered with hot oil.
Cook by time AND temp: I recommend using an instant-read thermometer when cooking any kind of meat or fish. Use the cooking time as a guide and temperature as a rule. If you aren’t sure what kind of thermometer to get or how to use it, check out our comprehensive article! You can use a thermometer in more ways than you might think!
How to Serve Chicken Paillard
I recommend serving this savory chicken paillard with a fresh salad and bright vinaigrette.
Pickled red onions, fresh lemon zest and a savory yet tart vinaigrette add just enough acid to balance out the savory, buttery chicken. Crunchy and salty marcona almonds and peels of Parmesan add depth and make this dish truly satisfying.
Serve This Chicken Paillard Salad With
- Serve this chicken paillard with our Lemon Butter Sauce.
- Top the chicken paillard with an olive tapenade.
- Add capers to the brown butter-shallot pan sauce.
- Mix up the arugula salad to fit the season. Add tomatoes, fresh or dried figs, fresh herbs like basil or parsley.
If you give this chicken paillard recipe a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @zestfulkitchen on Instagram. I love hearing about and seeing your ZK creations!Print
A foolproof chicken paillard recipe featuring a browned butter shallot pan sauce and a delicious arugula salad. This all-in-one meal can feed 4–5 people though we recommend serving with bread or rolls to ensure everyone leaves happy.
- 1 (5-ounce) container arugula
- ½ cup pickled red onions
- ⅓ cup marcona almonds
- ¼ cup Parmesan strips
- 1 lemon
Champagne Anchovy Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon anchovy paste
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon honey
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 (10–12 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 pounds total)
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 shallot minced (about ¼ cup)
Salad & Vinaigrette
Arrange arugula, pickled onions, almonds, and Parmesan on a large platter.
Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, anchovy paste, Dijon, and honey; season with ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Cut each chicken breast in half crosswise to create two halves, one that’s naturally thicker and one that’s naturally thinner. Slice thick halves in half horizontally to create two thinner halves.
Arrange chicken pieces on a cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder (or rubber mallet) pound chicken pieces into an even ¼-inch thickness.
Add half of the chicken pieces in an even layer and cook until bottom sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the centers registers 163–165ºF, 3–4 minutes more.
Transfer chicken pieces to a plate; season with pepper and set aside. Repeat with remaining 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil and chicken pieces.
Remove pan from heat, add shallot and cook until starting to brown, 2 minutes.
Return pan to low heat and whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time (this is called mounting), scraping up any brown bits until shallots are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Pour in any released chicken juices (from plate of chicken) and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce is deep brown and thickened, 2–3 minutes.
Dip each chicken piece in pan sauce to coat then arrange next to salad on platter. Using a microplane, grate lemon zest over salad then drizzle with dressing; serve immediately.
Serving size: if your a big salad-eating family, I recommend adding more greens to the 5-ounces of arugula. There's enough vinaigrette to dress a larger salad.
Ingredient Substitutions: Feel free to use baby kale or spinach in place of the arugula. Dry roasted almonds will work in place of marcona almonds and Pecorino Romano will work in place of the Parmesan. White wine vinegar will work in place of the champagne vinegar while sugar or maple syrup can be used instead of honey.
Anchovy Paste: if you don’t have anchovy paste and/or haven’t cooked with it before, I encourage you to grab some at the store. It adds a savory flavor to the vinaigrette, not a “fishy” taste.
Grapeseed oil is not as healthy as olive oil but healthier than canola or vegetable oil. Grapeseed oil is a great option for pan searing because it has a higher smoke point than olive oil. This means it can be heated to a higher temperature without smoking.
Cooking the chicken: It’s important to use a 12-inch skillet to avoid overcrowding. If the chicken cutlets are too crowded they will steam instead of sear. To achieve adequate browning on the chicken, try not to season the chicken with salt until just before adding it to the skillet.
Pickled red onions: I recommend making and keeping pickled red onions in your fridge frequently. Not only does it make for one less step during dinner, but they’re a great addition to sandwiches, burgers, tacos and salads.
- Serving Size: 2 ½ chicken pieces + ⅕ of the salad
- Calories: 397
- Sugar: 1g
- Sodium: 821mg
- Fat: 16g
- Saturated Fat: 4g
- Carbohydrates: 3.5g
- Fiber: 1.5g
- Protein: 64g
- Cholesterol: 168mg
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