What it is: In culinary terms, a paillard is a flattened piece of boneless meat, ideal for quick cooking techniques. To create a paillard, cooks typically place a piece of meat between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and pound it with a kitchen mallet (a wine bottle will do, if you haven’t got a mallet) until it becomes a thin, even slice.
Where it comes from: The technique was named for a 19th-century restaurant Paillard in Paris, where presumably it was employed. This cooking term is rife on American menus, but no longer used in France, where the word escalope is now preferred — paillard now having a nonculinary meaning of “bawdy” or “lewd.” I leave it to your imagination to infer how the word for pounded meat became one describing rude acts.
What to do with it: Any type of meat can become a paillard, and the technique is often used to create to soften and tenderize tough, sinewed cuts of meat, as well as to even out awkwardly shaped cuts such as chicken breasts so that they cook uniformly. Fast-cooking paillards are most often grilled or sauteed, or you can coat them in breadcrumbs and pan-fry.
Chef Mark Grimes of Pinstripes in Northbrook and South Barrington quickly grills chicken paillards and serves them with arugula and lightly sugared and grilled fresh fruit, such as peaches or figs. “This dish is healthy, great and quick to prepare for a nice weekend lunch when you do not want to spend too much time in the kitchen,” Grimes says. “It is light so you can enjoy the rest of your day.”
Pinstripes’ grilled chicken paillard
Chef Mark Grimes
2 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, slightly pounded1/4 cup prepared pesto sauce2 ounces wild arugula1/4 cup horseradish vinaigrette2 lemon wedgesKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste1 tablespoon balsamic glaze1/2 ounce shaved parmesan or pecorino cheese
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a barbecue grill. Marinate the chicken in the pesto for 5 minutes. Take marinated chicken breast and season with lemon, salt and pepper, place on grill and cook through till opaque and lightly browned, flipping only once. (Alternatively, pan-sear the chicken on the stovetop.)
Set aside and keep warm while tossing the arugula and toss with horseradish vinaigrette, salt and pepper.
Garnish with shaved cheese and drizzle with the balsamic glaze and serve. 2 servings.
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup grated horseradish
2 cups olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
With a hand blender, puree the lemon juice, vinegar and horseradish and slowly incorporate olive oil to emulsify. Makes 24 ounces.