A paillard is the perfect way to cook chicken breasts. You have to do a little work on the front end pounding but then cooking them only takes about two minutes each. Plus, because they are so thin and in the hot sauté pan for such a short period of time, they stay tender and juicy. Here the sesame seeds give the paillards an extra-crunchy coating. You can serve these topped with any type of salad. I have called for crispy lettuce with fresh summer produce and a mildly acidic Meyer lemon dressing, but really use up whatever you have in the fridge—you can’t go wrong! The paillards can be pounded up to one day in advance; store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ cup toasted hulled white sesame seeds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 heads little gem lettuce, leaves separated or 1 small head Bibb lettuce, leaves torn
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 Kirby cucumber, halved and sliced
- 3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
- Working one piece at a time, with the flat side of a meat mallet, pound the chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or a zip-top bag cut open on 3 sides, to 1⁄8 to ¼ inch thick. Discard the plastic and sprinkle both sides of the paillards with the sesame seeds, pressing to help them adhere. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat for 10 seconds. Cook the paillards, in 4 batches, adding 1 teaspoon of oil to the sauté pan between each batch, until golden-brown on one side, 1 to 3 minutes. Turn and cook until cooked through, about 30 seconds (lower the heat if the pan becomes too dark).
- Toss together the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the paillards between four plates and top with the salad.