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Ring The Bells: Chicken Paillard With “Carillon” Candied Jalapeños & Crispy Pear Salsa

by evh on August 3, 2012

Chicken Paillard With “Carillon” Candied Jalapeños & Crispy Pear Salsa

Upon moving to or visiting any new city, my first couple of questions to start asking the locals has always been “Where should we eat?” and “What are the must try spots?”. Lucky for me, there’s a strong and passionate group of foodies here that have no qualms about speaking their minds when it comes to good food in Austin. One place that kept coming up in a variety of social circles, time and time again, over the last couple of years has been, The Carillon Restaurant located in the heart of The University of Texas (Hook’em!) campus and we finally had a chance to go check it out.

Nestled away on University Avenue, this clean and modern space makes for a perfect backdrop for Chef Josh Watkins’ seasonal and locally inspired cuisine. The service was perfect; no one was hovering over us, we were able to take our time and everything was explained in an unpretentious way. The food was creative, interesting and thoughtful as was the wine list which even included a few Texas wines (Yeehaw!). For me, it’s always the little things or components that really can make a meal extra special and Chef Watkins’ attention to the details such as: a light layer of lava salt on the butter served with the bread (I kept thinking so cool and the kiddos would love this stuff and then … stop thinking about the kids!) to adding a Smoked Maple Syrup to an Olive Oil Poached Beef Tenderloin dish to his use of Candied Jalapeños (WOW!) on an Escolar fish dish alongside Roasted Aprium (a plum-apricot), a Garlic Risotto Fritter with a drizzle of 50-Year Aged Balsamic – beautiful and of course, I had to have his recipe for those jalapeños. Chef Watkins and The Carillon were incredibly generous to share the recipe with me – thank you! – and I added them into a less complicated yet, equally delicious Chicken Paillard with “Carillon” Candied Jalapeños and a Crispy Pear Salsa.

Chicken Paillard (fancy for flattened or pounded out) is a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table and (bonus!) the kids are sure to go ga-ga for it. Serve it up with a simple and fresh, crisp pear salsa and top it off for the adults with Chef Watkins’ sweet and hot “Carillon” Candied Jalapeños. The jalapeños can be made ahead of time and are fairly straightforward to make. Most chefs work in grams (or weight) but I converted it over to be more accessible for the everyday cook. Spoon them over the Chicken Paillard or some cream cheese with crackers or top some vanilla ice cream or even add them to a Bloody Mary – it’s the sweet heat that will keep you wanting for more.

For the summer months, Chef Watkins has created a special 3-course tasting menu for only $29 in addition to the alá carte options filled with generous proportions and the 6-course tasting menu that can be paired with lovely wines from around the globe. The Carillon Restaurant is one of those places that you could easily find in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago but I am thrilled that it’s located in central Texas with that accessible Austin feel to it. Austin’s food scene has garnered (well-deserved) national media attention over the last few years – proving that, sure, we have A-W-E-S-O-M-E barbecue, Tex-mex and trailer food but thanks to places such as The Carillon Restaurant and Chef Josh Watkins’ we can also hang in the big leagues too – some of us here just might trade our clogs for cowboy boots to do so.

The Carillon Restaurant

1900 West University Avenue

Austin, TX 78705

(512) 404.3655

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