Paillard is a French culinary term thinly sliced or pounded meat, which is easier to cook and has quicker cooking times as a result of that.
I love pillared and actually do it to beef as well, but this chicken dish has a special place in my heart because of all my favorite flavors in it: sea salt, olive oil, lemon, fresh herbs like oregano and thyme.
I start out with some beautiful boneless, skinless raw chicken like breast meat chicken tenders, which you can get from Billy Doe Meats (everything is Halal).
Then, I wrap it in plastic wrap and use something heavy like a mallet or even my cast iron pan to pound the meat thin.
Once that’s done, I prepare the pan. I use a cast iron pan, but you can use any skillet. My secret to the chicken never sticking is to salt the bottom of the pan then add the frying oil. I season the chicken, too, but am careful with the salt because there will be plenty of salt in the pan.
I cook it for about 5 minutes on one side and never move it until it’s ready. You can tell by looking at the edges of the meat, which starts to pull away from the pan. Flip the meat over, then add the lemon slices and fresh herbs on top. Let it cook for another 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces, then move to a paper-towel lined plate to soak up any excess oil.
I like to add a few more cut fresh herbs on top for flavor, but what I also love about this dish is that you can lift the meat from the pan and still have the lemons and fresh herbs on top looking untouched, so the presentation is pretty- and all the flavor has been cooked into the meat so nicely. It’s just one of the easiest and quickest things you can do to put a great meal on the table- a side of rice, couscous or pasta would all be fantastic, although even a little rustic bread would be lovely, too. It doesn’t get much simpler or easier than that, particularly for the last Iftar of Ramadan.
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt + ⅛ teaspoon more for cooking
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1¼ pound boneless, skinless chicken pieces (i.e. breast or tenders)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh or dried parsley
- ½ lemon, thinly sliced
- 2-3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh or dried oregano leaves
- Prepare the chicken first by placing each piece in a separate plastic bag or between two sheets of clear plastic wrap or wax paper. Pound each one down with a meat tenderizer or mallet to thin out the pieces.
- Season each piece of chicken by generously adding the ⅛ teaspoon salt, the pepper and the parsley. Set aside.
- To the bottom of a saute pan, add salt. This helps to prevent the chicken from sticking. Add the olive oil, and heat it gently, then add the chicken.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes on one side, then flip. Add the fresh oregano and thyme and the lemon slices. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for a few minutes before serving. Serve with rice, couscous or pasta.