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Holiday Gift Guide

Seriously Simple: A holiday taste in a bite

  • Author: Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Content Agency, Entrée
  • Updated: November 26, 2019
  • Published November 26, 2019

Pounding the chicken is the key to this dish.

Holiday craziness getting to you? Do you still have to put dinner on the table for your family and maybe even some relatives that are visiting for the holidays? It can be a daunting task, putting together a simple holiday meal for a small group in just a few short minutes. This is the recipe to make.

Chicken paillard is nothing more than flattened meat. In this case, skinned and boned chicken breasts are pounded, quickly sauteed and then finished with a tangy, slightly sweet cranberry port sauce. This main course lends itself to last-minute preparation with minimal fuss.

The cranberry port sauce enlivens the simple chicken flavor and tastes like the holidays in a bite. Serve this with roasted yams and simple braised spinach for a Seriously Simple memorable meal. And, by the way, if you are having a small crowd for a festive holiday dinner, consider this for your main course. Your family and friends will be thrilled.

What to drink with this complex flavored dish? The sauce’s sweet and tart flavors call for a wine that can balance the yin and yang. A smooth and fruit-lifted pinot noir will be superb, as well as this season’s Beaujolais Nouveau red. In addition, an off-dry rose or California chenin blanc can also make a surprisingly delightful match.

Chicken Paillard with Cranberry Port Sauce

Serve 4 to 6

6 (6-ounce) boned and skinned chicken breast halves

Seasoning salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil spray

3/4 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons tawny port

1/2 cup fresh cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Place each chicken breast half between two pieces of plastic wrap or on a wooden cutting board. Using a mallet or the bottom of a saucepan, evenly pound them to 1/8-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, and spray with olive oil. When the skillet is hot, saute the paillards in batches, about 2-3 minutes per side or until no pinkness remains. Remove the paillards to a side platter, overlapping them for a pretty presentation. Cover with foil and keep warm.

3. Add the stock and port to the pan, and deglaze the pan on medium-high heat by scraping up the brown bits. Add the cranberry sauce, and whisk together until the it is slightly reduced and is a sauce-like consistency, for about 2 minutes.

4. Spoon the sauce over the overlapping paillards, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Advance preparation: This may be made 6 hours ahead through Step 1, covered and refrigerated.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at