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The Cooks : Paillards in Seconds Flat

July 05, 1990|ABBY MANDEL

Pounding boneless meat and poultry into very thin, flat slices--technically called paillards--is more up-to-date than it sounds.

When a four-ounce slice of meat, chicken or turkey breast is pounded, for example, it flattens into a large one-eighth-inch-thick slice; it looks like more food and is thus more satisfying. This is a nutritionally wise phenomenon since three ounces of cooked meat has become the generally recommended portion size.

Another point in your favor: Since the meat and poultry are trimmed of all visible fat and skin, paillards are low-fat. Since they are so thin, they cook quickly without much additional fat. A non-stick skillet will sear them with the least fat (unless you opt for grilling), making the skillet well worth the investment.

And since paillards are so thin, they freeze well and thaw quickly, making them always available for last-minute meals.

Here's how to pound paillards and package them for the freezer:

* Keep portions to about four ounces. They should be boneless. Remove the skin on poultry by pulling it off with your hands. Before pounding, trim all visible fat and remove any gristle or tendons. For the easiest results, meat and turkey slices should be about one-half-inch thick. Chicken-breast halves need not be sliced before they are flattened.

* Place poultry or meat portion between two sheets of plastic wrap (wax paper is not recommended because there is much less control in the pounding). Flatten with a meat pounder or heavy object with smooth four-inch diameter base (a one-quart glass measuring cup works well) until a uniform thickness of about one-eighth-inch is obtained. It's best to start in the center and work outward, pounding the meat firmly but gently--without tearing it. The paillards can be cooked right away or frozen.

* To freeze, stack them between sheets of plastic then wrap in an airtight plastic bag.

* To thaw, place each paillard in a single-layer in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Or let them thaw on the counter for half an hour.

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