I love the quick one pan dinners I’ve seen featured on Facebook. Basically, the idea is that you put a whole bunch of oiled and seasoned vegetables on a sheet pan, top with seasoned skin-on, bone-in protein (usually chicken thighs, legs or bone in breasts) and cook the whole thing together for an easy, efficient dinner.
The only problem is that my family complains bitterly about having to cut their meat off the bone (if they sound food spoiled, they are). Further, following the low fat diet craze for so many years has all of us used to leaner cuts like boneless chicken breast. However, if you put a boneless chicken breast on top of veggies and bake them in the oven you end up with tough, rubbery chicken that no one will eat.
So I’ve been experimenting with ways to cook chicken breasts in the same pan with veggies so that I can still get nice, sweet caramelized veggies and moist, tender chicken breasts. I found the answer in a technique I learned in cooking school called En Papillot, which simply translates to “in parchment”.
Basically, you make separate parchment packets for each breast, add a little bit of oil and top with seasoning and lemon slices. The packets get placed on the partially roasted vegetables and you end up with super moist, tender chicken and perfectly cooked veggies.
The problem with parchment is it doesn’t crimp up nicely like aluminum foil does so it requires a bit more fuss to make packets that don’t leak. So why not simply use foil? I strongly advise against using aluminum foil packets for cooking food at any time. Aluminum, in foil and other food sources, has been linked to several health risks, including a possible connection to alzheimers disease (1).
Making parchment packets is easier than you think. Here is a quick photo tutorial from the Food Network which shows you how to do it. Simply folding a sheet of parchment in half, placing the food inside near the center of the fold, closing the parchment back over the chicken and then making successive folds down the edges (as shown in the photo tutorial) is truly the simplest way to do it. If you find your folds don’t hold and your packet wants to open on you, you can use a non-coated metal paperclip to hold the last fold in place.
Keep in mind that this method of cooking works best in the oven at no more than 400 degrees. Do not try to use the packets on the grill, or the parchment will simply burn.
Because chicken breasts cook more quicky than bone-in cuts, I prepare the veggies first and start them roasting in the oven while I assemble the chicken packets. This gives them a head start so that they will be completely cooked by the time the chicken is done.
Then I simply add the packets and cook further until the chicken is cooked through. Voila!! A simple, quick and delicious meal.
In my recipe here I decided to use an Herbes de Provence spice mix, which can be found in the spice sections of most grocery stores. I also chose to use more seasonal veggies such as fennel, snap peas, and carrots. However, you should feel free to experiment with your favorite spice mixes and veggie combos. There are so many great rubs and spice mixtures for sale out there. Or you can make your own.
The sky is the limit!
- - 3-4 large carrots, sliced into ⅓" pieces
- - 1 8 ounce bag sugar snap peas, stringed if needed
- - ½ large fennel bulb, cored and chopped into bite sized pieces
- - 1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
- - 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 teaspoons
- - 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for chicken
- - 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence, plus more for chicken
- - 3 pastured, organic chicken breasts, trimmed
- - 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Spray a 17½ X 13 inch rimmed baking sheet with olive oil spray (or brush with olive oil).
- Place carrots, snap peas, fennel and red pepper in a large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence. Toss to distribute spices, salt and oil evenly over all the vegetables. Turn vegetables out onto prepared baking sheet and spread evenly across pan. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes (bake for only 10-15 minutes if you are using large supermarket chicken breasts). Meanwhile, prepare chicken parchment packets.
- Tear off three pieces of parchment paper approximately 14-16” long each (depending upon how big your chicken breasts are). Fold each in half cross-wise so that each parchment piece is approximately 6-8” L X 15” W. Open each piece and place on a work surface. Place one chicken breast on each sheet of parchment just right of the fold line. Drizzle chicken with 1 teaspoon olive oil and then sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence. Lay 2-3 slices of lemon on chicken pieces (depending on their size). Bring left side of parchment over and line up edges. Starting with the top left side edge, make a ½” fold. continue making small folds, forming a semi-circular shape with the folds. If possible tuck the end of the last fold under the parchment packet to help keep it closed (you can also use a non-coated metal paper clip to hold the last fold together).
- Remove vegetables from the oven and using a spatula, turn and redistribute veggies. Push veggies to the edges of the pan, leaving the middle open for the parchment packets. Place packets side by side on baking sheet and return sheet to the oven. Bake for an additional 25-35 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thickest breasts reads 165℉. Remove from oven and carefully cut open packets (they will release steam). Discard lemon slices. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board. Pour juices from the packets over the vegetables and discard parchment scraps. Stir vegetables to distribute juices evenly. Thinly slice chicken breasts and serve immediately with vegetables and any remaining pan juices.
Have fun experimenting! Be sure to share any great combinations you come up!