The first step to great food is great knife skills. Check out more Knife Skills this way!

[Video: Robyn Lee and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

A chicken paillard is just a fancy French way of describing pounded chicken cutlets. As a technique for home cooks, it's one of the most useful; Once you know how to do it, a hot chicken dinner is only a few minutes away. When pounded to a quarter inch, chicken breast takes about four minutes total to cook in a hot skillet.

Once the chicken is cooked, throw a splash of wine into the pot with a knob of butter, put everything on a plate with a nice green salad on the side, and you've just saved yourself $13.99 on an entrée.

The most difficult step is the cutting: It requires a sharp knife and a little practice. If you're still a little green in the kitchen, you'll probably make a few holes in your chicken breasts before you get the hang of it—no worries, they'll still taste just as good.

Once you've got the breast split, pounding is fun and easy. The key is not to pound too hard. Hard pounding can make holes in your meat and gives you less control over the final thickness. Easy does it, ok?

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