Amongst all of those classic French dishes, Poulet Basquaise, or Chicken Basque, may be my most loved. A collection of some of my absolute favourite things – unctuous chicken, rich red peppers, provencal herbs, fragrant chilli heat and all braised together with a dry white wine. It’s a wonderful thing.
The catch, as with all these wonderful french stews, is the time. This is certainly not a midweek dish.
Cooking things ‘en papillote’ is an old French technique for steaming food in a parchment parcel. Perfect for keeping fish and lean protein moist and delicate whilst also cooking things quickly and healthily. It’s a method Carmen adores.
This Chicken Basque recipe combines the two, creating a fabulous dinner party piece or a hassle-free and healthy midweek treat – this is a firm favourite in our kitchen.
4 Chicken Breasts,
50ml Dry White Wine,
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1 tsp. Piment D’espelette, or ½ tsp chili flakes
1 tsp. Paprika,
Generous Pinch of Salt & Pepper
1x 500g Jar of Roasted Red Peppers, drained and roughly chopped into strips
250g Baby Plum Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Large Shallot, finely sliced
4 Bay Leaves
1 Small Bunch of Thyme
Olive Oil Oil
MARINATING THE CHICKEN
Season the chicken generously with salt, pepper, piment d’espelette, paprika and herbes de provence making sure that the chicken is evenly coated in seasoning.
Add the white wine and garlic to the chicken breasts and mix together thoroughly.
Leave the chicken to marinate for between 1-24 hours. The longer the better.
TIP – Re-sealable zip-lock bags work extremely well for this and will allow the chicken to be more easily manipulated and coated in the marinade.
PREPARING THE PAPILLOTE
Cut 4 even squares of baking parchment – about 40cm x 40cm.
TIP – you can also buy pre-prepared papillote bags if desired.
Layout a square of parchment paper and drizzle each with some olive oil, about a tbsp. Add ¼ of the sliced shallot to the centre of the parchment followed by ¼ of the red peppers. Add one of the marinated chicken breasts on top of the peppers and onions, adding some of the marinade as well if possible. Top with ¼ of the sliced baby tomatoes, a bay leaf and some thyme.
Lift up two edges of your parchment until they meet, closing together a bit like closing a book. Pinch and fold the edges together and then crimp the folded edge all the way along the length of the parchment. Make sure you do knot fold the edges too close to the filling inside – you want the parcels to have some space inside. You should be left with an open-ended tube of sorts.
TIP – This can be a little fiddly – persevere with it and try and make sure the crimped edges are really tight or else steam will escape and your chicken will dry out in the oven.
Pinch both the ends of the parchment together and then tightly twist shut. You should be left with something similar to a Christmas cracker. Make sure these parcels are not too tight against the filling – you want the parcels to have some space inside.
COOKING THE CHICKEN BASQUE PAPILLOTE
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/390ºF (Fan oven).
Place the Papillote parcels onto a large baking tray. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the chicken is entirely cooked through.
Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving the chicken basque with salad, roast vegetables or even rice. Enjoy.