I haven’t made chicken in parchment (papillote) in a long time and every time I make this I always wonder, “Why don’t I make this more often?” It is so easy, has a ton of flavor and it’s very moist. It will make your taste buds sing and dance, trust me. I will tell to you how I made them today but I always vary the ingredients. When my nieces were just wee little ones, I would have everyone make their own with the variety of ingredients I had on hand. Madison and Aarika like their Italian/pizza style with marinara sauce, pepperoni and garlic. Madison adds LOTS of black olives. Morgan likes her Asian style with lots of mushrooms, edamame, garlic, sesame oil, soy and some rice wine vinegar. As you can see everyone can be creative. It’s fun for all.
I used Parchment paper, which is easy to find in the grocery stores, look for it by the foil, wax paper and plastic wrap. You can also use foil in a pinch but give parchment a try.
Chicken in Parchment
Thinly sliced fennel
Baby spinach leaves
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes
Oven dried tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°.
Fold Parchment paper in half, using scissors round off the four corners of the parchment paper squares to make large circles; don’t worry about it being perfect. Re-open and place pieces of parchment on a baking sheet. Slightly off center of one half, place thinly sliced fennel, then on top of the fennel place a handful of spinach. Nest a chicken breast on top of the spinach then sprinkle with salt (omit if using kalamata olives since they are salty), black pepper, red pepper flakes and dry Italian seasoning. I make my own dry Italian seasoning which is a mix of thyme, parsley, oregano, basil and a little bit of mint.
Place oven dried tomatoes on top and drizzle with olive oil. Next top with quarter artichoke hearts, sliced kalamata olives and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over all. Use any or all of the ingredients and get creative.
Tip: When layering the ingredients, I put hardier ingredients on the bottom such as fennel, potatoes and onions so they simmer in the juices and I put the spinach under the chicken so it doesn’t dry out. Finally, add the remaining ingredients so that their juices penetrate the meat as it cooks.
Now let’s wrap our little packages. Fold one end of the paper over each breast, to make half-moon shapes. (The breasts should be horizontal to the folds, think a big calzone). Make 1/4-inch folds all around the open ends and press to crimp and seal.
Place in oven and cook for 20-30 minutes. After 20 minutes, I opened (watch for the steam) to check the chicken for doneness by making sure the thickest part of the meat is no longer pink in the center. One needed more cooking time.
Recipes for en papillote, will say to serve the packages on the plate and let your guests open them. I prefer to make a plain couscous, rice or quinoa and put a scoop on the plate. Then I open the packages and carefully slide the contents onto each plate with all the wonderful juices. Couscous will soak up all those juices and have a wonderful flavor.