Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chicken in Parchment with Spring Vegetables

 My family went camping at Yosemite Park for Spring Break.  It was the first time I had been out in the wilderness in a few years- I don't really love camping, you see.   But knowing how beautiful the landscape of Yosemite is, I was eager to go on this particular camping trip.  And I was so right.  Half Dome, El Capitan, the Yosemite Valley, and all the waterfalls made for a great backyard.  It is simply stunning.
It was a wonderful experience and I am still in awe of the beauty of the place.  Three just days wasn't enough time to explore the entire park.  We need to go back.  Someday.

What I don't love about camping is the food.  Or rather, my husband's version of camping food.  It's always the same.  Eggs, bacon, granola bars, boxed rice mixes, and his favorite camping dinner- a big london broil steak marinated in bottled Italian salad dressing.  Blech!  So for this trip I decided I'd try something different one night.  I brought along some chicken breasts, potatoes and broccoli, made a spice mix and grabbed some aluminum foil.  Wrapped into a nice little packet (along with a splash of wine we bought at the Yosemite Village store) and lovingly tended over the campfire, those simple ingredients made for one fantastic camping dinner.
Back home, I was feeling inspired by my camp dinner when I spied a box of parchment paper bags meant for the oven one day at the grocery store.  You can't get much more convenient than that.  Simply throw all the ingredients into the bag, roll up the top, slip it onto a baking tray and into the oven and voila!  Dinner is served.  Plus, who wouldn't love to tear open a parchment bag full of delicious goodies at the table?  My 7 year old did.

My simple camp dinner became a bit fancier with the addition of baby artichokes and fresh herbs, but no less simple or delicious.  And you don't need the bags to try to it- a big square of parchment will work just as well.
Chicken in Parchment with Spring Vegetables
Adapted from a Williams Sonoma recipe.  Serves 4.
For a printable recipe, click here.

This recipe is incredibly adaptable.  I used the veggies that I had on hand.  I would imagine asparagus, peas, green beans or broccoli would all work just as well.  And if you can't find the parchment bags, cut a square of parchment to about 12 x 15 inches.  Place the chicken and vegetables in the center then fold one side over the top diagonally.  Twist the edges together until almost fully sealed.  Pour the wine into the opening and then finish sealing the packet.

4 chicken breasts, pounded to make flat
6 new potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch discs
8 baby artichokes, halved
4 medium carrots, halved cross wise and each half quartered
4 tbs butter, room temperature
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 small shallot, diced
2 tbs chopped fresh herbs ( I used chives, tarragon and parsley)
4 tbs dry white wine
4 parchment bags meant for the oven or 4 large squares of parchment paper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

In a small bowl, mix the butter, dijon, shallot and herbs together.

Place 1 chicken breast into each parchment bag.  Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.  Spread an equal amount of the butter mixture over each piece of chicken.  Divide the vegetables equally into each bag.  Sprinkle the vegetables with a small amount of salt and pepper and then pour 1 tbs wine into each bag.  Tightly fold the tops of the bags over to seal.  Place two bags each onto baking sheets and place in the oven.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  To test for doneness, press the top of the chicken through the parchment.  It should feel firm and spring back.

Remove the packets from the oven and place each on a dinner pate.  Let each person cut open his packet at the table.  It's like an herbal, fragrant facial!

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