As tough as chicken breasts can be to cook—there’s no fat or bone to help mitigate dryness—a pounded chicken “paillard” is as easy. It’s a technique that becomes a no-brainer once you learn it, whenever sauteeing the old boneless, skinless standby. By pounding the breast into uniform thickness and watching carefully, you can turn out a surprisingly moist cutlet with plenty of caramelized surface area. Add a delicious pan sauce—this time, by one Thomas Keller—and it’s a solid dinner, indeed.
Why I Picked This Recipe: I’ve already praised the technique with this recipe, which was a big draw, but I was also interested in Keller’s combination of tarragon and curry powder in a single recipe. The fragrance and spiciness of curry powder fades subtly into the background, while the anise-y tarragon-butter sauce comes to the forefront. Together they make for an unexpected, wonderful flavor.
What Worked: The combination of classic French technique–a simple pan sauce made with shallots, wine, butter, and tarragon–along with the unusual spice profile with curry is the major achievement of this recipe.
What Didn’t: My only suggestion next time would be to increase the quantities of shallot, wine, and chicken stock to make more pan sauce to go around. It’s that good.
Suggested Tweaks: The recipe calls for dusting the breasts with the paprika/curry spice mixture and allowing them to sit for a couple hours; I skipped this step and cooked them straight away. But if time permits, it would allow more of the subtle curry flavor to penetrate the meat.
Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home.
About the author: Blake Royer has been writing for Serious Eats since 2007. He is the Creative Director at Jamco Creative in Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter: @blakeroyer.
Serving Size: 4
Chicken Breasts with Tarragon
As tough as chicken breasts can be to cook—there’s no fat or bone to help mitigate dryness—a pounded chicken “paillard” is as easy.
15 minPrep Time:
30 minCook Time:
45 minTotal Time:
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
4 large (about 8 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the paprika and curry powder. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the chicken breasts. If time permits, cover and refrigerate for a couple hours.
Lay the chicken breasts between two large pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound them until they are uniformly of 1/4-inch thickness. Season both sides liberally with salt.
Preheat an over to 200F, and place a baking sheet with a cooling rack set over it in the center. In a large (14-inch) skillet, heat a film of canola oil over high heat until almost smoking. Lay two of the chicken breasts presentation (smooth) side down into the pan and cook until golden, 1-2 minutes. Flip the breasts and cook the other side until golden, being careful not to overcook the thin breasts. Transfer to the rack, add a little more oil to the pan if needed, and repeat with the other breasts.
Pour out any remaining oil in the pan and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the shallot and cook until just soft, about 3 seconds, then add the wine and cook until reduced by half.
Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and reduce until thickened to a sauce consistency. Stir in the chopped tarragon and remove from the heat. Add the remaining butter and swirl the pan until just melted into a glossy sauce. Pour in any accumulated juices on the baking sheet and swirl to combine.
Arrange the chicken on a platter, pour the sauce over it, and serve immediately.