Delicious tender chicken topped with roasted acorn squash, winter baby greens, dried cranberries, and spicy candied pecans tossed in a cranberry dijon mustard dressing for an excellent chicken paillard meal.
Get your culinary gourmet experience at home with this satisfying Chicken Paillard accompanied by a vibrant Cranberry Pecan Acorn Squash Salad. The dish harmoniously marries the succulence of thinly pounded chicken breasts, seared to golden brown perfection, with the earthy sweetness of roasted acorn squash, creating a combination of flavors and textures in every bite.
The salad, a medley of crisp greens, tart cranberries, and crunchy spicy pecans, offers a refreshing contrast, while a drizzle of cranberry Dijon mustard vinaigrette ties the elements together with a zesty embrace.
This recipe not only elevates the classic Chicken Paillard but also introduces a seasonal twist, making it a perfect choice for a light yet satisfying meal that celebrates the essence of autumn and winter on your plate.
More Deliciously Healthy Recipes to Try:
- Air Fryer Butternut Squash Spiced Chickpeas Chicken Soup
- Butternut Squash Chicken Chili
- Spicy Chicken PItas with Arugula Feta Pomegranate Salad
- Healthy Poached Egg Avocado Rainbow Tuna Salad
First, combine olive oil with maple agave syrup, Italian herb seasoning, cayenne powder, cinnamon powder, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Then, toss the sliced acorn squash and whole pecans in the maple sauce mixture and roast.
Next, in a hot pan with olive oil, sear butterflied boneless skinless chicken breast that has been seasoned with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Then, with the remaining maple sauce mixture, you'll toss the cooked chicken to coat.
To serve, plate up the maple chicken. Add apple cider vinegar, cranberry sauce, and whole-grain Dijon mustard to the remaining maple sauce to make a quick dressing.
Toss the dried cranberries and candied pecans in the sauce with mixed winter greens. Plate up the acorn squash with the salad, drizzle the sauce on the plate, and top the salad with crumbled creamy goat cheese.
See the cranberry pecan chicken salad recipe card for quantities.
For this recipe, the boneless skinless chicken breast is butterflied. To learn more about his technique, visit the Cook's Notebook section on Prepping Chicken: Butterflied.
Follow the instructions and cooking tips below using the step-by-step picture guide.
Butterfly the chicken breast, then cut into individual halves. Learn more about how to butterfly chicken breast.
Pound the butterflied chicken breast to tenderize the meat. Then, dry with paper towels to allow the seasoning to adhere.
Use a whisk to incorporate the ingredients to make the maple sauce base. Not pictured: Whisk the sauce in a large mixing bowl. This will be used throughout the recipe.
Toss the acorn squash and pecans in the sauce.
Place on one side of the sheet pan to make space for the pecans that will be added later.
Place the coated pecans in a small tray to add next to the roasted acorn squash later.
The chicken is butterflied into individual halved pieces for quicker browning, creating tender chicken.
Add the chicken breast to the oil skin side to sear to create a nice golden brown color when the oil is near the smoking point to prevent sticking to the pan. Learn more on how to prevent chicken from sticking to the pan.
Coat the chicken in the maple syrup mixture for extra flavor.
The roasted acorn squash should be tender. If you do not like the skin, wait until it cools off to remove the skin.
Add the pecans when they have cooled down. Plus, mix the salad with the dressing only when you are ready to serve.
With a whisk, vigorously combine the cranberry sauce and other ingredients with the maple syrup base to incorporate.
The dressing should be enough to toss the salad and drizzle extra onto the finished plate.
Busy Folks - Become a better home cook with cooking tips to help you cook more efficiently on Cook's Notebook tab. In addition, some related detailed steps can be found there.
- Maple Agave Syrup - You can use regular maple syrup or maple syrup with monkfruit.
- Acorn Squash - Try thinly sliced roasted sweet potatoes.
- Whole Pecans - Use walnuts or almonds.
- Dried Cranberries - Try tart-dried cherries or other dried berries.
- Whole-Grain Dijon - Use ground Dijon mustard or brown mustard, and adjust accordingly to the mustard's acidity.
- Goat Cheese - Try feta cheese. In addition, for a strong tangy flavor, try blue cheese, which should pair up nicely with the sweat pecans and tart-dried cranberries.
- Winter Mixed Greens - Use arugula salad mix.
Change Heat Level - Modify the recipe's heat level to your liking and learn more about the Scoville Scale and Chili Pairings.
- Quick Salad - If you are short on time, shred some store-bought rotisserie chicken or leftover roast turkey and toss it with the salad.
- More Toppings - Use green apple slices, roasted red onion, wild mushrooms or red bell pepper,
- Different Meat - Try this recipe with seared pork chops or even sea bass. Caramelizing the pork and even the fish pairs nicely with the tangy, sweet cranberry dressing. Plus, the meat tossed in the maple syrup mixture? Mouthwateringly delicious!
- Cutting Board - Used for butterflying and pounding out the chicken breast. In addition, use plastic wrap to cover the chicken before pounding to prevent cross-contamination. Tip: Use color-coded boards like these Flexible Cutting Mats to prevent cross-contamination.
- Meat Mallet - To pound out the chicken breasts to tenderize and promote uniform cooking, like the KitchenAid Meat Tenderizer.
- Paper Towel - Used for drying the chicken to allow the seasoning to adhere and brown the chicken.
- Mixing Bowl - You will need a large mixing bowl that will be used throughout the recipe.
- Sheet Pans - Used for roasting the acorn squash and pecans. You will need large and small baking sheet trays like the USA Pan Nonstick Half Sheet Pan and Quarter Pan.
- Frying Pan - To sear the chicken breast. I used the All-Clad D3 3-Ply Stainless Steel Fry Pan to develop this recipe.
Kitchen Must Haves - Find other tools I use here.
- Refrigerator - To store in the fridge, you can place the boneless chicken breast and acorn squash in shallow 2-inch containers to cool down quickly. Then, store it along with the salad and dressing in airtight containers. As a result, the meal will last up to two days.
- Freezer - Follow the refrigeration process mentioned above. Then, place the chicken, acorn squash, and dressing in the freezer in a labeled airtight container. I do not recommend freezing the mixed greens.
Air Tight Food Containers - I use Glass Food Storage Containers with a plastic clipping lid to store food. For example, I always suggest glass storage containers since you can microwave them and hold food without staining the container, and the glass keeps them at a more stable temperature, which keeps the food fresher longer.
Lunch for Dinner - Serve your lunch chicken salad recipes by searing the chicken using the paillard method with the salad on the side.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pounding chicken for Chicken Paillard serves two main purposes. First, it ensures uniform thickness, allowing the chicken to cook evenly preventing dryness in thinner parts while waiting for thicker sections to cook through.
Second, it tenderizes the meat, creating a more delicate and enjoyable texture in the finished dish. And third, it ensures quicker cooked chicken.
Absolutely! While pecans complement the dish's flavor profile, you can experiment with other nuts like walnuts, almonds, or even pistachios based on your preference. Choose nuts that add a desirable crunch and work well with the sweet, savory components of the salad and that are delicious when roasted.
Chicken Paillard cooks quickly due to its flattened form. Cook the pounded chicken for about 2-3 minutes per side over medium-high heat or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The chicken should have a golden-brown crust on the outside, and if you're uncertain about doneness, you can make a small incision to ensure there is no pinkness in the center.
Using a meat thermometer is the most reliable method to guarantee the chicken is safely cooked while remaining juicy and flavorful. When developing recipes, I usually use the ThermoPro Digital Meat Thermometer.
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Looking for other quick recipes like this? Try these:
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- Cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat to prevent foodborne illness from contaminated uncooked meats.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat to prevent cross-contamination.
- Don't leave food at room temperature for extended periods; this can breed bacteria.
- Never leave cooking food unattended to prevent burns and fires.
- Use oils with a high smoke point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
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