You know, sometimes cooking can be as therapeutic as it is nourishing—not to mention tasty! And I think that making a paillard is the ultimate in stress relief since you pound the meat until it is uniformly thin.
This week, I am getting out my frustrations by making Chicken Paillard with a Greek Farmer’s Salad and that heavenly garlic-cucumber-yogurt sauce called tzazaki. The fresh lemon and oregano rub infuses the thin pieces of chicken (called paillard), making it sparkle with flavor. Served on top of a Greek farmer’s salad (a.k.a. Horatiki) and dressed with the pungent tzazaki, it’s a dish that’s hard to beat. If you’re not a yogurt person, the chicken is also good served on the salad with a spicy oregano vinaigrette.
Have fun pounding the chicken and…don’t forget it’s fun to play–or pound–your food!
Chicken Paillard with Greek Farmer’s Salad and Tzazaki
Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Heat
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
Lemon Oregano Wet Rub:
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
Zest of two lemons
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
¼ teaspoon water
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Strips of lemon zest for garnishing, optional
Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce (Tzatsiki); (below)
Greek Farmers Salad (below)
Special Equipment: meat pounder or rolling pin
Preheat the grill. Rinse and dry each chicken breast, remove tenderloin if still attached. Brush lightly with oil on both sides (this will make the pounding easier). Place each chicken breast between two pieces of parchment or waxed paper about 8” x 8”. Using a meat pounder (or rolling pin), flatten each breast to about an even ¼-inch thickness. Set aside.
Mix garlic, lemon zest, salt and water in a mortar or a shallow bowl. Grind with the pestle or the back of a fork. Add pepper and oregano and grind again to mix. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions.
Brush each piece of chicken “paillard” with olive oil on both sides. Rub [AQ: What tool to spread rub?] each piece with a quarter of the wet rub mixture on both sides, making sure to coat evenly. (Note: the rub is very flavorful and will be too strong if left in clumps on the pieces of chicken.)
Using tongs, place the paillards on the cooking grate directly over the heat for about 6 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. When the chicken is marked and cooked through, remove from the grill.
Immediately squirt 1-2 lemon wedges over each piece of chicken and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and strips of lemon zest, if desired. Serve topped with Tzatziki sauce and a Greek Farmers’ Salad.
Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce (Tzatziki )
Makes about 2 cups
2 cups nonfat or regular plain yogurt
½ medium seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Place the yogurt in a strainer set over a large bowl. Allow to drain overnight in the refrigerator. Discard liquid.
Wipe out the bowl, then put yogurt into it. Add the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix well. Refrigerate before serving.
Tip: Make the Tzatziki up to three days in advance. The flavors intensify and actually taste better once they’ve had a chance to meld.
Garlic Tip: The older the garlic, the stronger it tastes. If your garlic is a little past its prime but hasn’t started sprouting yet, you can still use it, just reduce the quantity by half if you don’t like a strong garlic flavor. Likewise, if you love the taste of garlic and your garlic is extremely fresh and firm, increase the amount of garlic for a more pronounced flavor.
Greek Farmers Salad
4 medium fully ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 European (long seedless) cucumber, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 small red onion, cut in half and sliced into semi-circle rings
20 oil cured black olives, more or less to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 ounces feta cheese, cut into 8 pieces (optional)
Wash tomatoes and cucumbers. Cut ends off cucumbers and discard. Slice cucumbers into a salad bowl. Cut tomatoes into wedges and add to bowl. Add sliced onions and olives. Mix well and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Serve with chicken paillard and tzatziki immediately. If using the optional feta cheese serve authentic Greek style with the cheese laid on top in thick slices (do not crumble or mix into salad).
Pound it Out!