Curried Chicken Paillard with Mango and Cherry Tomato Relish
I spent the past weekend in Mexico City on one of my bestie’s bachelorettes, and it was glorious.
Honestly, it was the least bachelorette-y bachelorette in the best possible way. No disrespect to the traditional bach—I will be drinking yard-long Miami Vices in a white bedazzled bikini on the Vegas strip come August—but there is something to be said for a low-key, culture-heavy iteration.
Between responsible tequila breaks, our six-person crew managed to squeeze in plenty of city exploration, long walks (I regretted my decision to pack exclusively fancy footwear), bustling outdoor markets, and visits to Chapultepec Castle and Frida Kahlo’s house, which I considered rather impressive. Especially since my past bachelorette activities have mostly involved rolling around on a lounge chair, carbo-loading, and inhaling cocktails through a penis straw. Needless to say, I felt very accomplished and smug as I ate my airport gummy bears on Sunday.
There are many wonderful things to be said about Mexico City, but the real selling point for me was the food. We had some truly epic feasts, one of which went down at a festive little spot called Azul Condesa. The menu offered a smorgasbord of Mexican delicacies, but there was also a surprise. It was…wait for it…
MANGO MONTH!!! This mango fiesta was taken very seriously, and the menu included a bright yellow, double-page insert with recipes featuring the fruit. (One of the walls of the restaurant was also covered in a matching floor to ceiling poster announcing the month-long fruit celebration. Commitment!) The sheer volume of mango dishes was mindblowing, and as a mango fetishist, I was equally thrilled and overwhelmed.
There were so many delicious non-mango menu options that we only ended up ordering one fruity specialty—a spicy pico de gallo. It was unreal. Nobody was really paying attention to it (thank GOD), so I just kept eating it solo at my end of the table and thinking about how I would like to smother everything I eat in it forever and ever. Amen.
The memory of that pico inspired me to buy several mangos earlier this week and whip up one of my personal favorite (albeit not Mexican) mango-centric meals: Chicken Paillard with Mango and Cherry Tomato Relish. This recipe is quite the warm weather showstopper, friends, and with grill(pan) season officially upon us, I’m hoping you’ll add it into the rotation, stat.
Let’s talk chicken first. Paillard-ing is one of my favorite techniques for making tender, juicy chicken, and it couldn’t be easier. Just place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic, pound the shit out of them with the bottom of a skillet (or a meat mallet if you fancy like that), give them a short soak in a citrusy spice bath, and throw them on a grill(pan) for a few minutes on each side. Done and done.
This chicken is great on its own—and I use it to top bowls and salads on the reg—but topped with the Mango and Cherry Tomato Relish it’s practically a revelation. The relish is sweet and tangy with an herbal freshness courtesy of mint and cilantro, and the red onion gives it the perfect amount of bite. Its bright flavors are the perfect addition to the smoky curried chicken, although it’s tempting to eat the relish straight up with a spoon. (Which is obviously allowed/encouraged.)
I like to serve my chicken and relish over greens, whole grains, or cauliflower rice, but I also love the idea of stuffing them in a pita with a little yogurt or wrapping them up in warm lavash or tortillas. Ooooh, you could also chop up the chicken, mix it with the relish and serve it in lettuce cups! Maybe add some avocado? You do you.
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, (6- to 8-ounces each)
For the Mango and Cherry Tomato Relish:
- ½ small red onion very thinly sliced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 ripe mango seeded, peeled, and diced
- 1 dry pint cherry tomatoes quartered
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- Kosher salt
In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, curry powder, smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne. Briefly set aside.
One at a time, place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the bottom of a skillet, pound the chicken to a ¼-inch thickness. (Be careful not to over pound the chicken—you don’t want to tear the meat!)
Place the pounded chicken breasts in a large ziplock food storage bag, and add the marinade. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, and gently squish the chicken around so each breast gets coated in the marinade. Let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the relish. In a mixing bowl, toss the red onions with the lemon juice. Let rest for 5 minutes just to mellow the onion’s “bite.” Add the mango, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, mint, and a pinch of salt. Gently toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate while you grill the chicken.
Preheat a grill (or grill pan) over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it on the hot grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. (If using a grill pan, you will likely need to cook the chicken in batches.)
Serve the chicken warm or at room temperature topped with relish.
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