Monday, February 6, 2012

Grilled Chicken Paillard with Arugula Salad

pail·lard  [pahy-yahr, pey-]
a scallop, especially of veal or chicken, that is pounded flat and grilled or sautéed quickly.

Yes what a lovely word it is. So French and delicious.

If you are looking for a light refreshing dinner meal this is it. This recipe is from the Food Network site. The chef Bobby Flay. I love his recipes. I can honestly say I have not prepared a recipe of his I did not like.

Find chefs who have your taste buds. When you are tired and don’t feel like reinventing the wheel they are your go-to. Websites like Food Network and Epicurious are fabulous resources for recipes.

As I have said before, it is the quality of the ingredients simply prepared that makes the dish. So great dinners can be so easy.

This recipe is a perfect example of that. Get some good quality organic chicken, best extra virgin you can afford and nice fresh arugula, tomatoes, and you are good to go.

For this recipe, the chicken is pounded flat (see definition above) this tenderizes and also makes for a quick cook time. It is lightly marinated in lemon juice, shallot and olive oil to give it a zing. Served with the arugula salad it is light and refreshing.

In the winter I still grill. Either on my small Weber charcoal grill that I use on the screened in porch when it is not too sub zero. Tonight was one of those sub zero nights so I went indoors with my le creuset grill pan made of cast iron that goes directly on the double burners.

Today’s weather was a bit of a challenge when shooting. It was our first blizzard of the year. The snow was coming down about 1 inch per hour. The sky was pretty dark however all the white helped give some nice light.

The tricky part about natural light is you can have good light in one window and then by the time you are set to shoot it changes.

I set up the shot by an easterly window and then proceeded to prepare the food. By the time I got ready to shoot, my light was different. It was flat and not exciting. So I walked around to the front of the house with my plate of food. Yes it was about two stops brighter there. Very quickly I reset up the entire set there. My dogs thought I was crazy and could not stop smelling the chicken as it whizzed by them.

When you are doing both styling and photographing it is tricky. I don’t have time to dilly-dally. The food will only be good for so long and then you’re done.

I prefer hand holding my camera however today was too dark. I guess I could have gone to a higher iso but  don’t want to sacrifice sharpness. So I went on my tripod for safety.

When approaching a plate of food I start playing around with angles and keep changing until the food looks best. Just like when shooting anything else. People have a good side and a bad side food is no exception.

The chicken was flat so shooting straight into it was most flattering to me. Plus there was nice light coming through the arugula. Always a bonus.

When I shot from a higher angle the white plate was sticking out too much. I wanted the focus to be on the food not the plate.

For those of you who shoot at home or in a studio I would be curious to know if you have a favorite place to shoot? What kinds of things do you do in low light?

Grilled Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Black Pepper and Arugula-Tomato Salad-Chef Bobby Flay

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thinly
1/2 lb arugula
2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, or if out of season use grape or cherry tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
2 Tbsps red wine vinegar
2 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
lemon halves, for garnish
micro greens-garnish (in photo)

Whisk together lemon juice, shallot, olive oil and black pepper in a large baking dish. Add chicken that has been pounded flat with a meat mallet. Be sure to remove the tender. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. No more or else the lemon juice will break down the meat.

Preheat your grill to high. Remove chicken from marinade, season with salt on both sides and grill for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and feels done to the touch.

Combine arugula, tomatoes and onions in large bowl, toss with the vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place each paillard on a large plate , drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve along with the arugula salad.

Garnish with lemon halves or as I did in the photo with some micro greens.

Enjoy and thanks to Amy for my photo critique!!

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