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Chicken In Parchment With Potatoes, Leeks And Tarragon

serves 2

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2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 russet potato, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


prep: 20 minutes
total: 1 hour


baking sheet
large bowl
parchment paper
digital instant-read meat thermometer


1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place a baking sheet on the middle rack.

2. Season the chicken with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Prep the rest of the ingredients and toss everything except the chicken in a medium bowl. Season the mixture with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

3. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper about twenty inches long. Fold it in half (like you're closing a book) then open it back up. Put 1/4 of the vegetable mixture in the middle of the center fold. Put 1 chicken breast half on top of the vegetables. Put 1/2 tablespoon of butter on top of the chicken. Cover the chicken with another 1/4 of the vegetable mixture.

4. Fold the paper over so that the two ends meet (closing a book again). Beginning at either end of the center fold, make overlapping diagonal folds so that you make a tight pocket around the food. The end result will be a half-crescent shape that looks sort of like a fried pie.

5. Repeat steps 3. and 4. for the second papillote.

6. Place each papillote on the baking sheet in the oven for 30-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. When done, the papillote will inflate and become aromatic. (The chicken should reach 160F in its thickest part. The first couple of times you cook this way, you may want to take the temperature by inserting an instant-read thermometer through the parchment paper. Although the closed pocket keeps the chicken moist, it's worth checking the temperature early and often during these first attempts so that you can see how long it usually takes for the chicken to cook through.)

7. Put each packet on a plate and cut the flat end open with scissors or a sharp knife. Slide the paper out from under the ingredients (like you're pulling a table cloth out from underneath a set table.)

8. Add more salt, pepper, tarragon and orange zest to taste.
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