Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

Honestly, if I were stranded on a desert island with only one cookbook, The Silver Palate Cookbook (1979) would be it. Well, that is assuming there’s plenty of food around for me to cook, right? So I guess I mean a luxury desert island of sorts… you get the idea. This book was a big hit in the early 80s, and I ALWAYS find copies at thrift stores, and they are universally oil-splattered and well-loved like mine is! I grew up cooking from this cook book, and this is where many of my all-time favorite recipes come from, and this chicken dish would be at the very top of that list.

This was my first experience with cooking in foil pouches (or, as the French like to say, en papillote, though that is often done in parchment paper rather than foil) but in a pinch, this also works in a small casserole with a tight-fitting lid. I’ve even made these packets up for cooking over a fire! The herbs, fat, even the citrus can all be adjusted to your taste (prefer orange and ginger to lemon and garlic? Fine! Substitute olive oil for butter? Fine!), and it just never fails. Kids will eat it (I mark my daughter’s pouch with a Sharpie and use no garlic in hers), and you can even make up the pouches in the morning, put them in the fridge till you get home, and just bake them in time for dinner: quick and fabulous.

The mind literally boggles when I try to estimate how many times I have made this dish. If I estimate about twice a month since I began cooking at age 13, that would be 24 times a year for – oh, several years. Shoot, my calculator hasn’t got enough space in its memory to figure that! Let’s just say, I’ve made this a lot, and you will too after you try it!

Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

1 cup chopped fresh mint, dill and parsley in about equal proportions, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 boned chicken breasts, skinned and halved, about 4 ½ pounds altogether
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 lemons
4 Tbsp sweet butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Mix herbs and garlic together in small bowl. Flatten chicken breasts by pressing them against the work surface with the palm of your hand. Arrange breast pieces on foil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle herb and garlic mixture over chicken breasts. Slice lemons and arrange 2 or 3 slices over each breast. Dot with butter and seal the packets. Set on a baking sheet. Set packets in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to serving plates and allow guests to open packets at table. 6 portions


  1. so excited to try this out. i like the idea of prepping in the am or even the night before since i'm usually rushing out...

  2. Good point, Elvia, I am always rushing too! I'm gonna post more things you can get started early, cause I adapt lots of recipes to work like that. :)