Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese

I have been wanting to make something with fresh figs, and finding them at the farmers market last week made this dish come together. From Tyler Florence: Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese.

This salad is exploding with flavor. Consider the ingredients and there’s no surprise why: Arugula. Blue cheese. Figs. Pancetta. Together, it’s the perfect blend of spicy, salty and sweet, crisp and soft, tart and smooth. Basically, you NEED to make this salad.

I cooked this for my friend Kim for a catch-up dinner after I’d been gone for two weeks. Combined with the bold, spicy Maurice Car’rie red wine she brought from our wine tasting trip to Temecula, it was a match made in heaven.

Reasons I love this dish: 1) It was SUPER fast. This is a true 30-minute meal. Pounding the chicken thin makes it cook really quickly. 2) I love blue cheese. 3) I love pancetta. 3) The warm dressing drizzled over the top is delicious. 4) Nothing is better than a speedy salad.

TW’s Tips:

  • Cooking the chicken in the pancetta drippings makes for a splattery mess. Cover with a splatter shield.
  • Using fresh, not dried, tarragon is critical.
  • Get really good quality blue cheese. I used Maytag. Don’t get the stuff they sell pre-crumbled. It’s not nearly as flavorful and creamy. Trust me, the price difference is worth it.
  • Fresh figs can be hard to find. The farmers market is your best bet.

Can’t wait to hear how you like this one!

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese

Vinaigrette:

  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 medium lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound pancetta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, broken into hunks
  • 1 bunch arugula, trimmed
  • 1 small basket seasonal figs, halved
  • Tarragon leaves for garnish, if desired

Directions:

Prepare vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and set aside.

Prepare chicken: Sandwich chicken breasts between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound them very thin with the side of a meat cleaver or a rolling pin. Remove chicken from plastic wrap and season well on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Unroll the pancetta so it looks like big strips of bacon. Add it to the pan and fry it like a tangle of bacon until the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Drizzle a 2-count of olive oil into the pan with the pancetta drippings. Add the chicken and pan-fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side to brown the breasts and cook them through. Use a spatula to remove the chicken to the paper towels with the pancetta. Add the vinaigrette to the sauté pan and heat for a few minutes, stirring, to deglaze the bits of pancetta and chicken from the bottom of the pan; take the pan off the heat.

To serve, arrange the chicken on a platter. Scatter the blue cheese, arugula, figs, and pancetta over. Drizzle the dressing over everything and garnish with the tarragon leaves.

The Week’s Farmers Market: Figs, Squash and Curry

After two weeks eating way too much fried food in Wisconsin, I could NOT wait to get to the farmers market on Sunday. I have three dishes in mind for this week, and my hope was that I could find fresh figs. Success! Plus many other treats, including four adorable pumpkins to decorate my house for fall.

The tally: mushrooms, broccoli, butternut squash, basil, pumpkins, plums, a nectarine, arugula, garlic, rosemary, thyme, lemons and figs.

In store in the kitchen for the week: Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese; Herb-and-Lemon-Roasted Chicken with Smashed Broccoli and Garlic; and Cold Pasta Salad with Roasted Chicken, Plums, Blue Cheese and Basil. Also, salmon with some sauteed mushrooms and squash. Can you tell I’ve been missing my kitchen?

I’ve also been meaning to eat some of the delicious-smelling food sold by street vendors at the farmers market. With an empty refrigerator at home, perfect timing! I tried panang curry with chicken from the Thai stall, and it was absolutely mouth-watering. For just $8, I got a huge serving, and I was only able to eat about one-third of it for lunch. Hellooo, tomorrow’s lunch!

The curry was served on top of your choice of white jasmine rice or whole grain red rice, which I went for in a heartbeat. It was great, and very interesting looking as well.

Stay tuned for the week’s dinners! I can’t wait to get my hands dirty in the kitchen again.