Friday, July 15, 2011

Italian Chicken en Papillote (a non-recipe post)

One of the great things about having my mornings in class is I'm forced to get up at the same time as I do when I teach. Now, I know some of you are putting your hands up to say, what the heck? There's method in my madness, I promise.

When I have time off, I stay up late. And then I sleep in. And my sleep cycle gets pushed further and further out of whack.

I don't like it when my sleep schedule gets pushed out of whack.

Believe it or not, I like productive mornings. It's so nice to get everything out of the way right at the beginning!

Plus, it means I don't have to feel guilty for my daily afternoon naps.

It's all about having guilt free naps.

Yesterday, after a drama class filled with some interpretive dance on war/peace to Zoe Keating, I walked to the library for my annual summer library reading binge. I wasn't carrying any bags on me, so I only picked up a few books, one of which was the French Women Don't Get Fat cookbook.

This recipe (if you can call it that) isn't from the book, but was inspired by her several recipes using the en papillote technique. For those of you not familiar with en papillote, it means you take meat or fish and place it, along with other flavourful ingredients, in parchment paper packages which are then baked in the oven. This steams the meat inside, but also infuses it with whatever ingredients you've thrown in along with it.

I opted for chicken with lemons, parsley (although, if you have fresh rosemary, all the better), olives, sundried tomatoes and capers.

The brilliance of this recipe, is that there really isn't one. Use what you've got on hand; just keep it to no more than 2 tbsp of toppings, plus something beneath the chicken to infuse from below. Sautéed shallots or spinach would make a great base. A few cloves of garlic in there with some lemon and lots of black pepper? Delish!

And the bonus? No added oils!

The packages are made by creating a circle out of parchment and layering all the ingredients on one half of the circle.

You then fold the other side of the paper over to create a half moon shape. Fold the sides up along the edge of the circle so it looks like this:

Bake in the oven on a baking tray at 400º for about 30 minutes.

If you're into theatrics, give everyone at the table a pair of scissors and allow them to cut a cross into the top of the package and then tear it open. The big reveal is half the fun.

Do be careful of the steam though. There's a lot of it trapped in there!


adventuresindinner said...

I LOVE that book. It totally changed my food thinking.

I'm reading Julia Powell's "Cleaving" right now. It is good but I'm finding it hard to like her. Cudos for honest writing though.

Locavore Family said...

Oh my goodness...that looks amazing. Love the steam shot at the end. I've got some salmon steaks in the freezer and I'll give this a whirl.

Thanks for sharing.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

It looks like a papercraft Cornish pasty!

Alyson said...

Is that the follow-up to Julie and Julia?

Linds - salmon would be totally perfect. If I'd had fish, I probably would have done that instead.

IR - yes. Yes it does. I rather thought the same thing.

Jaime said...

I think just saying en papillote is half the fun ;) I haven't tried this type of cooking but I know it can be pretty good!

Alyson said...

LOL Jaime! I totally agree. There's something very romantic about it, isn't there?

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