Lemon Chicken Breast en Papillote

The lemon chicken unwrapped - see how pretty?
The lemon chicken unwrapped - see how pretty?

My friend Nikki asked if I had a way to do Lemon Chicken - and I immediately thought of this. It is super quicky, ridiculously easy, and keeps fat and calories to a minimum. The only oil in here is a tiny bit to lube the inside of the packet and it's done with bonesless, skinless chicken breasts.

En papillote is a french culinary term that strictly translates as "in parchment". Cooking en papillote is a great trick - you simply make a little pouch out of parchment paper, aluminum foil or in a pinch - a paper bag. Inside you place whatever you like - this lends itself best to fish, chicken and veggies that like to be gently steamed or roasted. Throw it in the oven or if using foil, on the grill, and walk away. Do your nails. Fingerpaint. Bathe the dog. You have a free forty five minutes. Dinner's ready.

The French are renowned for their food for one very good reason - it rocks. And so does this little technique. On top of being easy peasy lemon squeezy, it's really pretty when it comes to the table. cooking en papillote ensures the food stays juicy, and you've get the bonus of having a free sauce magically appear in your packets. You'll get ooohs and aaaahs - and don't you dare feel guilty when nobody knows how little you did.

Just layer the ingredients on the parchment paper.
Just layer the ingredients on the parchment paper.
If using parchment, just tie the little package with butcher's twine. It's a present!
If using parchment, just tie the little package with butcher's twine. It's a present!
Foil works just as well - in this case just pinch the edges closed at top.
Foil works just as well - in this case just pinch the edges closed at top.

The Method!

This is more of a method than a recipe. In this case I refer to four servings, but you can add or subtract at will. If you love a particular ingredient, use more. Hate it? Use less. You can also add veggies if you like - zuchinni and sliced onion is divine when it's included in this particular recipe. Use red onion and the colors are just beautiful. If you're a fan of piccata, toss in a few capers as well.

You'll need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 large lemons

4 small prigs fresh rosemary

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper

1 tsp butter

4 squares of aluminum foil or parchment paper

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Use the butter to grease the interior of each sheet of aluminum foil. You only need to butter where the chicken will touch on the bottom.
  3. Lay one chicken breast in the center of each square of aluminum foil. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.
  4. Slice each lemon in half, squeezing the juice of one half evenly over each breast. Slice the second half very thinly, covering each breast with a few slices.This is pretty lemony - makes it really sing. If you want less, use just a half a lemon per breast.
  5. Top the lemon slices with a sprig of rosemary. Sprinkle with the minced garlic.
  6. Pull the edges of the foil up over the chicken and roll the, squeezing to seal each packet. If using parchment, gather the edges up top, and tie off with a little kitchen twine. This makes a really pretty 'purse' - great presentation.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes in a 350F oven. Allow each packet to rest for five minutes before you open it.

A note - 45 minutes works really well if you have really fat chicken breasts. If yours are thinner, or if you are using fish, cut the cooking time to 30 minutes. If they are super thin, go to 20.


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