Friday, July 31, 2009

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese for Tyler Florence Fridays

Just when I think I have reached the pinnacle of Tyler's brilliant recipes, I find another gem out there that impresses me all over again. I was lucky enough to stumble across some small bags of fresh local figs at the farmer's market on Saturday, (it pays to get there very early as "finds" like figs sell out fast). We don't get to see local figs here often, (unless you are lucky enough to know someone with a fig tree in their yard), and they are so much fresher and firmer than the ones brought in from the mainland that you can occasionally find in the better grocery stores here. Enjoying some fresh, I wanted to do something wonderful with the rest of them so I looked to Tyler. He has several recipes that use fresh figs, but the one for Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese in Tyler's Ultimate with its variety of interesting ingredients, looked like it would be fun to try. 

You can find this recipe in Tyler's Ultimate on pages 138-139

Tyler says: "Pounding chicken breasts into paillards, which means thin slices, is a great way to use chicken breasts in the summertime for salad. It cooks fast and evenly so the meat stays nice and moist. The salty-sweet combination of figs, pancetta, and blue cheese is dynamite. If you can't get your hands on fresh figs, peaches work just as well."

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese
Tyler's Ultimate, Tyler Florence 
(Serves 4)

3 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 shallot, chopped
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb pancetta
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb blue cheese, broken into hunks
1 bunch of arugula, trimmed
1 small basket seasonal figs, halved
tarragon leaves, for garnish

First whisk together all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and set it aside.

Sandwich the 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 the chicken breasts from the plastic and season well on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large saute 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 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 saute 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.

Notes/Results: WOW!!! This is so good and it is such a gorgeous dish too! I was thinking it might possibly be too many things on the plate and that the flavors might compete with each other, but I should not have doubted Tyler. Everything works so well together; the juiciness of the figs, the sweetness of the honey, the assertive, sharpness of the blue cheese, the peppery arugula, the crisp, salty pancetta, and the lightly anise flavor in the tarragon; they all compliment each other and add a new dimension of flavor to the chicken. In fact, although it was moist, juicy, and good, the one ingredient I wouldn't miss if it were taken out would be the chicken--the salad is good enough to stand on it's own. I made the recipe as written, the only difference was that the pancetta my neighborhood grocery store had was in packages and very thinly sliced. I didn't want to make a trip to Whole Foods, but would have enjoyed a thicker cut in the pancetta, for a bit more substance in the texture. The salad goes together quickly and easily, (you can put it together in well under 30 minutes), making it a perfect hot weather dinner. The dish is versatile enough to be a simple casual supper or impress your party guests. This is a winner recipe. If you get some fresh figs, (or as Tyler says peaches will work too), I urge you to try it. In fact, if I can get more figs at the market this week, I'll be making it again. It will go down as one of my very favorite Tyler recipes so far. Delicious!

Head over to the Tyler Florence Fridays blog (here) to see what our other TFF members selected to make this week and what they thought about their recipe choices. 


  1. My dad has a fig tree and they are some kind of awesome. I've never had the combo but I've heard good things about figs and blue cheese. This looks very delicious. I bet dried figs would work as well in the salad.

  2. It's so hard to get fresh figs out here in the hinterland. Just reading the title of your dish, I could imagine the play of tastes--salty, sweet, tart. Beautiful arrangement, and I agree about the salad being able to stand on its own even without the paillard.

  3. All I can say is — WOW! I absolutely love your blog. I ended up here after one of my blogging friends did a short post on sea asparagus that peaked my interest enough to google it. The results let me to you and I am one happy little mermaid today. After reading and saving your Sea Asparagus-Poke Salad recipe, I surfed around and spotted even more mouth-watering recipes that I want to try.

    Yo should consider also linking to our Foodie Friday event, I know our participants would fall in love with your recipes and your blog.

    Oh, it's a happy day in blogland for me! Can't wait to come back for more.

  4. Look like another winner! Tyler seems to be a lot like Ina Garten - well tested recipes that WORK.

  5. Oh my gosh! The combination of figs and bleu cheese is one of my all time favorites! And you did such a great just photographing it! Very colorful, tasty looking dish!

  6. That salad looks so good. I love the combination of figs and chicken in a salad. Really yummy looking.

  7. That is gorgeous! Wow. If I ever see a fig in these parts I am definitely making that.
    Tyler has turned me into a paillard convert, truly a wonderful way to prepare chicken.

  8. I had a beautiful, productive fig tree in my backyard (yes, sometimes things do grow in Vegas). But I had to rip it out, because the birds would get to the figs before I could. And what a mess that became!

    Now that I've told you a story, the chicken looks fabulous and one that I will definitely be trying soon.

  9. What an absolutely amazing recipe. Figs and cheese and all things scrumptious. Tyler does it again!

  10. That salad looks beautiful. It will play on my mind until I can get some figs to try it. Yum - nearly every single favourite thing of mine in one hit.

  11. ooh I hope figs are in season soon here!

  12. This looks like one beautiful meal. The combo of figs and blue cheese sounds delicious.

  13. Wow Deb...gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! I love figs...and everything else in here. Great job :D

  14. Tyler can put together the most amazing combinations.

  15. Oh my god I LOVE figs! That addition of the blue cheese just made this perfect.

  16. Congratulations on being chosen this week!! Your dishes are always so colorful and pretty and this one is gorgeous. Sounds like a great combo of flavors.

  17. I love the flavor combination in here! I can only get fresh figs for a short window of time here which makes me sad. I would eat them all the time if I could.

  18. Your dish looks absolutely wonderful! I have to admit that I've never actually eaten a fresh fig, but I just may have to try now! :) Congrats on being chosen this week!!

  19. Beautiful!
    I don't think I've ever seen local figs. Have to go looking some more.

  20. YAY!!! I loevd this dish and I am so glad you got picked this week! congratulations! It was so lovely and colorful, it reallt stands out.

  21. Deb, this looks like a totally "killer" salad. I have saved it for next time fig season comes around - has pretty much just finished here now.


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