For me, this dish screams summer! It’s light, clean and oh so satisfying. I tend to come back to this familiar flavor profile time and time again because it’s just so good!! Chicken with some lemon and garlic and some wonderful pungent briny flavors from capers or olives or in this case, both! The simplicity and brightness of Mediterranean inspired flavors just seem to so perfectly fit the bill for the warmer weather months, they won’t weigh you down but they give your soul what it wants!
I served this chicken with some flavorful Israeli cous cous (pearl pasta) and a light watercress salad but nearly any accompaniment will do, such as angel hair pasta or rice. It’s quite versatile! I highly suggest enjoying this dinner al fresco with lots of friends and a big bottle of very cold white wine!
Paillards of Chicken with Lemon, Olives and Capers
For the Chicken:
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any excess fat
- 1/4 cup green olives, I used Castelvestrano, pitted and lightly chopped
- 1/4 cup black olives, I used Cerignola, pitted and lightly chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/4-1/2 cup all purpose flour
- juice and zest of one lemon
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup good white wine, I used a dry Riesling from Wagner Vineyards
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
- salt and pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
For the Cous Cous:
- 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup Israeli cous cous
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 small white onion
- 1 big stalk of fresh oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper
For the Watercress Salad:
- 1 bunch watercress greens
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 2 radishes, grated
- 1 small shallot. finely minced
- 1 teaspoon mustard, I used whole grain
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, could be more oregano, could be thyme, I used basil, use whatever you like!
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- salt and pepper
Begin by preparing the stock for the cous cous. Add the chicken stock, oregano stalk, bay leaf, garlic and onion to a small pot and bring to a boil with the lid on. When the stock comes to a boil, kill the heat and allow to cool slightly.
In the meantime, place your chicken breasts on a cutting board and pat dry thoroughly with a few paper towels. Cover the breasts with some plastic wrap and beat gently with a meat mallet (or an empty wine bottle!!) until you have achieved an even 1/4 thickness throughout. Remove the plastic wrap and season the breasts heavily with salt and pepper.
On a large shallow plate, spread out the all purpose flour and a little salt and pepper into an even layer for dredging. Place the chicken breasts one by one into the flour to form a nice light coating on the outside. This layer doesn’t have to be thick, just enough to cover the surface!
To finish the cous cous, strain the flavored stock into a bowl and season with some salt and pepper. Take the garlic and onion that you boiled in the stock over to your cutting board and finely mince them. In the same pot that you built the stock in, add some fresh olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and onions back in. Allow them to heat gently before adding the cup of cous cous into the pot to toast. After toasting the pasta for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, add the stock to the pot, reduce the heat and cover. The cous cous will be done cooking in about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet. You could also use a large nonstick pan if you don’t have cast iron. When the oil is shimmering, add in the flour coated chicken breasts working in batches if you need to. Fry until deeply golden brown, about 4 minutes, and then flip to brown the other side. When the chicken has been seared on both sides remove to a plate while you begin to build the sauce.
While the skillet is still smokin hot, add the wine, chicken stock, lemon juice and zest and a pinch of salt to the skillet, scraping all of those delicious brown bits off of the bottom and bring to a boil. Allow the sauce to reduce to about 1/4 cup of liquid. Add the chicken back into the sauce, turning to coat. Add the chopped olives and capers to the skillet and stir together as best you can. Bring to a simmer and cover lightly with aluminum foil for about five minutes.
Finally, to make the salad, add the shallot, basil, mustard, salt and pepper to the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Add the watercress and grated vegetables to the dressing and toss to coat!
To plate up this whole shebang, I divided the cous cous, chicken breasts and salad among three plates. Then I spooned the sauce, making sure to include lots of olives and capers, over the chicken breasts and cous cous. Garnish with the fresh oregano and enjoy! Cheers!