In spite of it's recent political reputation, I encourage you to go ahead and drink your wine, and eat your arugula, and try out a great French classic, elitism be damned! Everyone from Rachel Ray to Julia Child (great equalizers, both) have favored this quick, light meal, so I thought I'd give it a try last week. It was fantastic!
Paillard (Pie-YARD) just means "a thin cut of meat that is cooked quickly." You can use chicken or veal for this, and if your cuts aren't thin already, you can pound them thin fairly quickly with a big mallet, a heavy (non-glass) jar, a frying pan, or a rolling pin. The ingredients and method that follow are the ones that I used and recommend, but I'm sure there are lots and lots of great variations. Leave your suggestions in the comments! I really liked this recipe, which I adapted from Tyler Florence's "Ultimate Chicken Paillard" on http://www.foodnetwork.com/. The lightly flavored chicken has a deliciously crispy coating, and it pairs well with assertive, peppery arugula and a tangy lemon vinaigrette. The parmesan shavings round out the flavors with robust nuttiness.
Prep time: 20 minutes (1o minutes active, 10 minutes inactive)
Cook time: 10 minutes
4 chicken breasts
2 C. panko bread crumbs
1 C. flour
2 eggs, beaten well
1/2 C. olive oil (1/4 C. for vinaigrette, 1/4 C. for cooking)
1 bag baby arugula
1 5-oz wedge parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper
First, place your chicken breasts between two layers of plastic wrap OR one-at-a-time into a large freezer bag (will make pounding less messy). Pound out to an even thickness, about 1/3 in. thick. (If you use good-sized chicken breasts, the end product may be as large as a small dinner plate.) Pound well, but be careful not to over-pound, or your chicken will fall apart.
Next, assemble your "breading station" thusly with three separate bowls: 1 bowl with flour, salt, and pepper (1 t. each), 1 bowl with your beaten eggs, and 1 bowl with your panko and 1/4 C. grated parmesan, salt, and pepper (again 1 t. each). First flour the breasts, then dip in egg, then coat well with panko. IMPORTANT: Let the breading "set" by placing paillards on a baking sheet in the fridge for ten minutes. This will help the breading not to fall off when you saute it. Repeat for each chicken breast.
When your paillards are chilling in the refrigerator, make the vinaigrette (but don't toss with arugula until the last minute). Whisk together juice from 1 lemon, plus 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 t. salt and 1 t. pepper). Set aside.
To cook the paillard, heat 1/4 C. olive oil on medium heat in a large frying pan. Gently place your paillard in the pan, working in batches if necessary (this dish does not need to be served piping hot, is completely delicious warm or room temperature). Let it cook uncovered and undisturbed for two to three minutes per side, then turn. These cook quickly, but it's also important to let the breading get nice and golden.
When you're ready to serve, toss the arugula greens with the vinaigrette. Place one chicken paillard on a plate, and top with greens. Garnish with parmesan shavings and lemon wedges.
Since this is a light, chicken dish, I'd pair this with a nice bright Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre. Both have nice citrus notes which will complement the lemon.