Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper with Arugula-Tomato Salad

Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper with Arugula-Tomato Salad

It gets said that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Actually, I’m the one who says it. A lot. I never utter it in response to fatal threats, however, so I really can’t tell you if its true or not. Rather, I prefer to exploit what I feel is the expression’s inherent irony and adopt it as my mantra for those times when I must deal with life’s more “not ideal” situations. I’m referring to those unfortunate obstacles that feel ‘life and death’ at the moment, but in actuality are only garden variety annoying. They just piss you off.

“Damn! Honey, the water heater broke and flooded the garage. All that drywall and cabinetry needs to come down!”

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 

“Oh no! My laptop was stolen out of my hotel room!”

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 

“What? My flight got cancelled and I will miss my connection?”

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

“Hi Sis. What? Did you just tell me that your sewer line is being replaced and you will be living with us for a week…or maybe two?”

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Just uttering these words out loud puts my personal mini-dramas into perspective immediately — like verbal Xanax.

Big deal! Deal with it Trevor and get on so you can help those around you who really need it. You have your family, friends, health and a nice roof over your head. Take a quick look around and take notice your friends and neighbors who are struggling with much, much more.

So while I cope with my stolen laptop (notice I haven’t been posting much?), a water heater that has laid claim to the contents of my garage, and a sister who won’t leave (and can’t help out with taking on a single dinner while she is here), I wasn’t really all that stressed out about it.

Instead I was quite grateful.

Its really hard to feel sorry for yourself when people around you are struggling with so much more. Terminal illness, unemployment, children who won’t be returning home from war in one piece, losing a home in a monster hurricane.

I hope that as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday I hope everyone remembers that gratitude is the best meal of all.

Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper with Arugula-Tomato Salad

So what does any of this have to do with Lemon and Black Pepper Chicken Paillard? Not much really.

When my daily annoyances start piling up I tend to seek out certain meal “standbys” like this dish that don’t involve much to think about in terms of preparation or shopping yet are simple and elegant and use only a few ingredients.

Having some of these meal ideas in my cooking arsenal is just as much a part of my daily coping strategy as trite sayings are. A 20 minute meal won’t calm me down like my mantra (or xanax for that matter) but they do get me fed well in a short period of time. I playfully refer to them as “the dinner specials” at home as these dishes would certainly get put into a Monday through Friday rotation — if I actually had a Monday through Friday rotation.

Things are a bit hectic around here so expect to see more of The Dinner Specials at Sis. Boom Blog in the coming months.

Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper with Arugula-Tomato Salad

Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper with Arugula-Tomato Salad Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper with Arugula-Tomato Salad
Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper with Arugula-Tomato Salad Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper with Arugula-Tomato Salad

Lemon and Black Pepper Chicken Paillard with Arugula-Tomato Salad

Lemon and Black Pepper Chicken Paillard with Arugula-Tomato Salad

adapted from Bobby Flay

This is what you will need:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • salt
  • 1/4 pound aruglua (approx 1 package prewashed, bagged.)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, halved and sliced very thin.

This is how you make it:

  1. Whisk together the lemon juice, shallot, olive oil and black pepper in a baking dish large enough to allow for the chicken to be laid flat without overlap.
  2. Turn the chicken to coat and marinate and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, preheat grill to high.
  4. Prepare the salad: Combine arugula, tomatoes and onions in a large bowl, toss with the vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Remove chicken from marinade, season with salt on both sides and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and just cooked through. If a grill is not available you may use a grill pan or pan fry in a small amount of olive oil in a skillet.
  6. Place each paillard on a large plate, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and top with some of the arugula-tomato salad.
  7. Garnish with lemon halves.

The culinary term “paillard” is frequently seen on American menus these days but you won’t see it any longer in France. There the term for a thin, pounded flat cut of meat was given its name from the 19th century Parisian restaurant, Paillard, where the méthode was popularized. The restaurant has since ceased to exist and with it so did the use of the term. So while paillard is quite a common culinary term in the USA, in France you will ordering escalope. (Should you now hear the term “paillard” in France it will be in its non-culinary, sexual slang context meaning…well…I will leave it to the reader’s imagination as to what the former word for a pounded piece of meat now implies. 

Whether it is paillard, escalope, or scallopini, this method is perfect for preparing quick and easy dishes that won’t kill you while you tend to life’s insignificant problems.

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Wow. This looks amazing. I try to keep that mantra in mind, but a lot of times it doesn’t work.

  2. You’ve been dealing with a lot. You have a fantastic attitude but who wouldn’t when you can sit down with a huge family and have this for dinner. It looks wonderful.

  3. A very good Post to read on a Sunday morning – because it was toooooo cold to go to church, Mother Nature beat out God this morning. No matter how bad things get, look around and there are so many more people, actually either 99% or 47%, take your pick, who have it worse. And, losing your computer, I feel your pain. Although I miss your cleverness and ingenuity ever Friday, no FFWD Posts from you, I will appreciate your dinner-life isn’t so bad- specials. This is a good one. And, when you REALLY are having a bad day, Trevor, just consider this: “How would you like to wake up every morning and be David Patraeus?

  4. Yay, a post! Missed you!! I am glad you are back online … and I always learn something from you. Paillard is now my new favorite slang for … well, you know.

  5. Petraeus, sorry, at least I could spell ther man’s name correctly

  6. Ah – you must be Superman right about now. Travel issues are one thing, but house problems are patience shredding.
    Lovely attitude, lovely meal.

  7. If only your water heater was stolen and your laptop had laid claim to your garage, things would have been much, much neater for you. And colder.

    Hang in there, baby.

    Personally, I cannot as much as look at chicken paillard without seeing the gigantic, custom-designed horse teeth of my former boss. It was on our menu.

  8. I think this looks like the perfect weeknight meal. And, you’re right – we have so much to be grateful for!

    I had noticed silence on your end of the line, but assumed you were super-busy! I hope you had all your photos backed-up. That’s what I always worry about.

    My 13 year-old cat has bone cancer so I’ve been completely consumed by taking care of him so haven’t posted much lately myself.

  9. Beautiful dish, Trevor! And I love your mini-Xanax mantra. After going to a funeral this morning and a wake this afternoon for two women my age who both died of cancer, I feel it’s time to celebrate all our blessings. Still having my laptop stolen might take a few of those mini-Xanaxes 🙂

  10. Love your attitude. Hang in there! And thanks for still making us laugh through it all!