Despite their enduring popularity, boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be very disappointing. They’re quite lean—which is what some people love about them—and that’s exactly what can cause them to be bland and dry. But when they’re good, they bring power to the paillard. Cooking them almost all the way through on one side will result in a chewy crust and superlative browning, and prevents the chicken from overcooking. If you go a tiny bit over, the bright and juicy tomato pan sauce will camouflage your mistakes.
This works with 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or pork medallions.
Basil, dill, tarragon, or parsley can replace the chives.
A chopped large tomato or two can replace the cherry tomatoes.
Half a red onion can replace the shallot.
Use sherry vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.
- Pat the chicken breasts dry and season both sides with salt and black pepper. Place them between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin or meat mallet, pound them out to about ¼ inch. Thinly slice the shallot into rings, thinly slice the garlic cloves, and thinly slice the chives. Set all these things aside separately.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add 3 tablespoons oil, then place the chicken in the skillet. Press down on the cutlets firmly with a spatula to ensure the chicken is making good contact with the surface of the pan, then cook, undisturbed, until the underside is deep golden brown and there is a thick band of cooked flesh around the edge, 4 to 6 minutes. About halfway through, lift up the cutlets from one corner and let oil flow underneath, then place them back down. Turn cutlets and cook until light golden brown on second side and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until the shallot is translucent and garlic is starting to turn light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until their skins start to shrivel, 4 minutes. Using the back of the spoon, gently smash tomatoes until they split open and release their juices (don’t flatten them, simply encourage them to burst), then cook until slightly saucy, 2 minutes more. Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in chives. Spoon burst tomato sauce over chicken cutlets.