In Which We Brine

This week was one of those more successful/less successful cooking weeks – in fact, one dish was so unsuccessful I’m not even going to bother posting it here! (It was chili. The recipe was actually fine, but we burned it. Oops. We’re blaming the stove?) The recipe I am posting about is a good recipe, but it had certain aspects I would adjust if making it again…

So, without further ado, I give you Cat Sentz’s Chicken Paillards with Tomato, Goat Cheese, and Arugula! The recipe is from One Big Table by Molly ‘O Neill, a collection of “heirloom” American recipes. Cat Sentz, for instance, is an American woman living in Idaho cooking for her friends and family.

You start this recipe out by brining the pounded chicken breasts (in the absence of a mallet, I spent some time whacking them with a small pan) in salt water:

Soaking my breasts. Tee hee.

This, I think was the start of the main (and really, only) issue with this dish – it was just too salty. I left the breasts in the brine a little long and forgot to rinse them, but the recipe did have you season with salt afterwards, and the salty chicken combined with salty goat cheese and salty tomatoes was a bit much.

We nevertheless enjoyed it – the chicken was amazingly tender, and the goat cheese sauce was delicious. The Boy complained that this was another one of those “healthy-looking” dishes, but with a side of La Brea Bakery bread, it made an excellent meal.

Chicken Paillards, voila!

Cat Sentz’s Chicken Paillards with Tomato, Goat Cheese, & Arugula
Adapted from One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking by Molly ‘O Neill.

Ok, so admittedly I messed up by forgetting to rinse after the brining – I would definitely recommend that step. We skipped the arugula because I hate arugula, but it’s not really supposed to be optional in the original recipe. The other big change we made was adding the tomatoes in the end – the original recipe was not clear on whether you were supposed to eat them or not. They were salty, but I thought they still added a nice freshness that cut the saltiness of everything else. The recipe made great chicken sandwiches with the leftover goat cheese spread in the following days – love it when I get dinner and lunch out of a recipe!

Yield: 4 Servings

Kosher salt
Four 6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed & pounded to 1/3 inch thick
2 cups cherry and/or grape tomatoes, halved
3 oz. mild goat cheese, crumbled
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups lightly packed baby arugula, to serve (optional)
2 tbs. minced fresh chives, for garnish (optional)

1. In a large bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 3 cups cold water. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat dry.

2. Meanwhile, in a colander over a bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit 15 minutes.

3. Whisk 2 oz. goat cheese, 2 tablespoons oil, 1/8 tablespoon pepper into the tomato juices in the bowl. Gently fold in remaining 1 oz. goat cheese.

4. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Brush chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken for 8 to 10 minutes, until well-browned on both sides, firm, and an instant-read thermometer measure 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. If using, divide arugula between four plates, place a chicken paillard on top, and spoon goat cheese mixture and tomatoes over the chicken. Sprinkle with chives, if using, and serve.

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