Grilled Chicken Paillards

After poaching boneless, skinless chicken breasts, my second favorite way to cook them is pounding them into paillards. It’s one of the few ways to cook them evenly without drying out at least part of them. Today, I’m going to spice them up with a quick barbecue rub instead of a wet marinade and then serve them in sandwiches, with or without barbecue sauce. I’m using the same rub I use for pork roasts and letting them marinate in it for about 2 hours. This rub sticks to both sides, even when the paillards overlap—don’t ask me how.

I didn’t use the classic butterfly method for paillards today, as I do when I have very large, thick ones. I posted a video once about using that butterfly method here if you’re interested: The package I used today had five breast halves that ranged in size from maybe just above average to small. None of them had the tender attached, which I would have removed and cooked separately, but I have left them on with some luck in the past. I just trimmed them, put them between plastic wrap with the underside of the breast up, and pounded them to about 1/4-1/2 inch. They may not have been uniform in size when I began, but they ended up uniformly thick for cooking evenly and quickly.

Grilled Chicken Paillards

  • Servings: 1/2-1 breast per person
  • Difficulty: easy
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boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tender removed

Dry Rub:

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

olive oil to drizzle on before grilling

  1. Place chicken breast, between sheets of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer, pound the breasts until uniformly thick, maybe 1/4-1/2 inch. Decades ago, I used the bottom of a coffee mug to do this and it worked just fine. Some people use the side of a heavy tall can. Whatever you use, you just want to avoid tearing the chicken by accidentally using a sharp edge.
  2. Mix the dry rub ingredients and lightly rub into both sides of each breast. It made enough to do five for me. Lay the chicken breasts in a large dish, cover, and place in refrigerator for a few hours.
  3. Remove the chicken to come to room temperature while you prepare the grill to 350°-400°
  4. Drizzle some oil over each piece before you place it on the grill. Cook covered for a few minutes, then turn and cook covered for a few more minutes. You can use a thermometer inserted in the side to check for 145°-150° or just press with your finger as you would test the doneness of a steak. These cook really quickly and you don’t want to lose the juiciness of the chicken by overcooking.
  5. I had all my coals piled in the middle of the grill, so I cooked the three small ones and then the two larger ones.
  6. Serve as is with sides or cut to fit rolls and garnish with tomatoes and slaw. The seasoning was enough for us, but you could add barbecue sauce.


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