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A spicy chicken paillard is cooled down and topped by a crisp, refreshing salad tempered with blue cheese crumbles.

Rach says, "Chilies are generally sold in 2 ounces pouches in their smallest amount so buy at least 2 varieties and mix it up."

Storage Tip: The homemade harissa will keep several weeks in a small airtight jar in the fridge.


For homemade harissa paste:
  • 10-12 moderate-heat dried chilies (about 4 ounces), such as arbol, ancho, red new Mexican, guajillo or pasilla, at least 2 varieties, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • About ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
For the chicken paillard:
  • 4 pieces boneless chicken breast
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons harissa paste, store-bought or homemade
  • ½ bulb fennel, shaved with mandolin or thinly sliced
  • 1 small red or white onion, thinly sliced or shaved
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 3 gem Romaine or 1 heart of Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup crumbled smoked blue cheese or blue cheese


Serves: 4


For the harissa, cover peppers with water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and soften. Transfer with slotted spoon or spider to food processor and add tomato paste, To warm peppers, add a couple spoonfuls of the leftover liquid. Toast seeds over medium heat till fragrant, a couple of minutes.  Grind the spices in a spice mill. Add to chilies along with garlic, salt, paprika, lemon juice and EVOO, then process into a smooth paste.

For the chicken, butterfly the chicken breasts by slicing across horizontally but not all the way through.  Gently and evenly pound with a mallet the chicken breasts to ⅛ – ¼ inch thickness. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high to high heat. Lightly coat pan with oil, half a turn, add the chicken in batches, 2 at a time, and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes, then remove to platter. Add butter to pan and melt, add the garlic and harissa to pan and combine, turn each chicken paillard in harissa Buffalo sauce and transfer to plates.      

Toss the fennel, onion, celery and romaine salad with juice of 1 lemon, remaining EVOO, a couple of tablespoons, salt and pepper.  Top chicken with salad and blue cheese crumbles to serve.