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French in a Flash: Dijon Pork Paillard with Spinach and Flower Salad

All summer long when I'm baking like a Thanksgiving turkey in the New York City heat, I'm praying for fall--for my birthday, for the turkey to roast instead of me, for the crisp air blowing the season's crisp leaves. From fall to the first snowfall, and during the requisite ambling up and down Fifth Avenue while staring through the glittering panes glistening with frost, I wish, again, this time for Santa to hurry down the chimney. But then winter white turns to grey: grey slush, grey buildings, grey skies, grey moods. I'm cold. I marvel at the strength of old man winter's clutch on New York--tenacious for a reputedly geriatric season. Even though I know spring heralds summer and the resulting pizza oven-like weather, I begin to pray for spring, for the white carpet that coats the sidewalks to change miraculously from snow to fallen cherry blossoms. And then I spot the first bud, and for a few blissful weeks of confused climate, it is spring at last.

Spring in France is always all about the flowers. The flower markets just on the Seine. The great buds that spring up from the grasses of the Tuileries. The jasmine and lily of the valley that make their way into the country's Easter-egg macarons. The rose éclairs and sorbets. The orange flower tea. The perfumier opens his doors to another sense, allowing taste to revel a bit with smell in the springtime garden. I can think of no better time than Easter week to eat flowers in a slightly different, but more visual way: Dijon Pork Paillard with Spinach and Flower Salad.

So often we here in America think of paillard as overly-grilled, thin chicken breast, ordered by dieters in bistros from New York to Los Angeles. But "paillard" refers simply to a quick-cooking, thinly-pounded cut of meat, and here I use lean pork chops with the fat trimmed away. Nothing gets rid of the winter blues like smashing away at bits of meat with your rolling pin. I coat them in Dijon mustard and crust them in a mixture of baguette crumbs and panko, then pan fry until crisp. On top, I mound a salad of baby spinach and edible flowers in a rainbow of colors, tossed with a mustardy dressing of delicate champagne vinegar, whole grain mustard à l'ancien, and crème fraîche. It is the perfect dinner to eat en plein air, under a snow shower of cherry blossoms. And if one falls on your plate, you won't even notice a petal out of place.

Dijon Pork Paillard with Spinach and Flower Salad

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the The Secret Ingredient series for Serious Eats.

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