Sunday, March 13, 2016

'Heart Smart' ~ Chicken En Papillote

February is heart and stroke awareness month in Canada. So why am I writing about 'Heart Smart' in March? Ironically, the morning after Valentine's Day, my partner had a major heart attack. It is taking time, but as we both recuperate from the trauma, I have changed some of my cooking methods to accommodate a reduced salt and reduced fat diet.

I have never been a fan of chicken breast meat, even less if it is boneless and skinless! There is so little fat in a boneless, skinless chicken breast that it is hard to cook it without the meat ending up dry or just tasteless. Wrapping it in bacon was a good option until now. How was I going to prepare my most dreaded protein without the use of fat?

Seasoned with dried thyme, paprika and Garlic Mrs Dash
En papillote is French for 'in parchment' and is a method of cooking where the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and baked. This is typically done using parchment paper but other wraps can be used. In the case of boneless, skinless chicken breast, the parchment acts as the missing skin to protect and prevent the meat from drying out. The chicken bastes in its own juices and the result is tender, juicy, succulent chicken breasts. It is easy, versatile, dependable and I too enjoyed the meal! Season the chicken with just salt and pepper or any spices you wish. Soon you will be cooking extra for leftovers to use in lunches. If you have struggled with dry, tasteless chicken breasts in the past, this method is worth a try!

This recipe is salt free and very low fat.

1 or more boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Ready for the oven
Dried thyme leaves, rubbed in your palm
Mrs. Dash Seasonings, salt free 
Freshly ground black pepper
Other spices or seasonings 
Parchment paper 

Preheat oven to 400F with a rack in the middle position.
Cut pieces of parchment paper, 10-inches wide, one for each chicken breast. See top photo; place each chicken breast on the parchment at a slight angle, season as desired. Fold the bottom corner over the chicken breast and fold the sides in to create a pouch. Put a few teaspoons of water into each pouch and continue rolling to close. 
Salt free and fat free... yet tender, juicy and succulent
Place parchment wrapped chicken breasts in a pan, spaced slightly apart, seam side down and add 1/8-inch water to the pan. It is OK if some of the water added to the pouch escapes into the pan.

Bake in preheated oven until completely opaque all the way through and registers 165F on an instant read thermometer. Start checking after 20 minutes, total cooking time is usually 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breast. 
Remove chicken breast from the parchment paper pouch, save the juices for a delicious salt free gravy or add to sauces or soups. Serve the chicken immediately, or let it cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

CHEF'S NOTE: For extra flavor try adding; fresh lemon slices, sliced onion, a garlic clove or fresh sprigs of herbs in the packages. 

Till next time... Bon App├ętit!

Photos and recipe by Sally Rae


  1. Thanks for the tip. I've been using parchment for salmon with fantastic results. Will have to try it with chicken.

    1. Great comment JP! Yes, the 'en papillote' method can be used for meats, fish, vegetables etc.