Parents Need to Eat Too

Parchment Paper Chicken with Sage, Brown Butter & Sweet Potatoes
I realize this isn’t the prettiest thing ever. But your belly won’t care, and neither will your tastebuds.

Parchment Paper Chicken with Sage, Brown Butter & Sweet Potatoes

Parchment Paper Chicken with Sage, Brown Butter & Sweet Potatoes
I realize this isn’t the prettiest thing ever. But your belly won’t care, and neither will your tastebuds.

We’ve got a pretty good division of kitchen labor around here. I do the majority of the cooking, while Stephen does the majority of the dish-washing. Harry, when he’s not too busy playing with his bazillion Finn McMissile toys (really, how many iterations of one vehicle can Pixar sell?), will occasionally deign to set the table—and he’ll be responsible for more, soon enough.

But Stephen’s job is pretty insane these days—he’ll make it home for dinner, then as soon as Harry’s in bed, he’s chained to his home office desk, sometimes until the wee hours. Which means I’m responsible for the whole shebang—planning, cooking, setting the table, and cleaning up. Friends, I hate cleaning up. That’s why I pull out the parchment paper.

I’ve already waxed poetic about why parchment paper cooking rocks, especially for busy parents. Short version: It’s quick, it’s easy, and the cleanup is practically nonexistent. And now, there’s an entire cookbook devoted to the method.

The Parchment Paper Cookbook by Brette Sember
It’s enough to set a parent’s heart a-thumping.

The Parchment Paper Cookbook by Brette Sember offers nearly 200 recipes cooked en papillote, as the French (and highfalutin’ English-speakers like me) say. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert—you can cook every single meal for weeks this way, with Brette’s book on your counter. Cooking in parchment is by nature low-fat, since very little is needed, and that nice tight seal you’re creating results in exceptionally tender, juicy meat. It’s virtually impossible to dry out a dish cooked this way.

In fact, the recipe I’m sharing with you today turned out to be nothing short of miraculous. Harry—y’know, the one who won’t eat my cooking?—not only tasted the chicken, he devoured it. I only made two breasts, since I assumed he’d eat his typical mouse-sized portion, but the little dude kept asking for more. He ate at least half of my chicken breast. And then—AND THEN—asked if I’d make it again the next night. I nearly fainted. For that alone, I heartily recommend The Parchment Paper Cookbook to any and all parents in Internetland.

Chicken with Sage, Brown Butter & Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from The Parchment Paper Cookbook by Brette Sember
Serves 1, and multiplies easily

2 tablespoons butter
2 fresh sage leaves
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
salt & pepper
1/2 sweet potato, washed and thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut a 20” piece of parchment paper (or foil, in a pinch), and lay it on a baking sheet.

  1. Brown the butter: Put it in a small, stainless-steel skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Swirl it around a bit as it melts, just to keep it cooking evenly. It’ll foam, and when the foam subsides the magic begins. Continue to swirl the pan occasionally, but leave it alone otherwise—just watch it, since once the color starts to change it darkens quickly. When the butter begins to smell nutty and the color is toasty, remove it from the heat and add the sage leaves. They’ll sizzle furiously and begin to crisp up. Set the pan aside.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and place in the center of the parchment. Arrange the sweet potato slices on top, and season them with salt and pepper, too. Pour the butter and sage on top.
  3. Now, fold the packet: Lift the short ends of the paper and bring them together, centered above the food. Fold them over at least twice, creasing as you go, until you’re snug against the food—make sure the creases run the entire length of the paper. Twist each loose end several times, tightly, until the packet is well sealed.
  4. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink and the sweet potato is pierced easily with a fork.

MAKE BABY FOOD: The finished texture is moist and soft, perfect for babies—either puree some of the chicken and sweet potato along with the accumulated juices, or cut into bits for finger food.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. This looks really good. I have only used parchment paper for baking with, but I will have to try this!

  2. Thanks for the tip on this cookbook. Looks like the perfect Xmas present for my nephew who is in grad school and has just stared cooking for himself.

  3. I made this recipe tonight (with thighs because that’s what I had), and it was a huge hit with my hubby. Thanks for the idea.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Roxanne! That cookbook’s full of good stuff.

  4. I have this book and cannot wait to try the recipes. There are so many good ones.

  5. Love the whole idea of parchment paper cooking. Will pick up Brette’s book and delve into it further.

  6. On no! One more cookbook for my Amazon wish list 🙂 I’m very excited to try this recipe. My hubby is working a similar schedule, and I also *hate* cleaning the kitchen.

  7. What a great recipe. I’m wondering, do you think thyme would work in place of sage? Love the idea of cooking in parchment

    1. I don’t see why not, MKES! I don’t think I’d sizzle them in the butter, though–maybe just sprinkle on top of the potatoes, or in between the chicken & potatoes.

  8. Add 5 new fans for the parchment paper chicken recipe. The only thing they didn’t like we’re the other vegetables I tried to sneak in on the side. Anytime I hear my kids say ‘more, please’ to a meal that was that easy to make and happens to be actually good for them, I’m happy. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. That’s great, Kathy! I’m making this again tonight, since Harry liked it so much. Sticking with what works, for the time being…

  9. Tried this on Friday as the grandparents decided they were going to stay for dinner! Went down really well. I also came up with a vegetarian friendly option for my mum that swapped the chicken for haloumi cheese & added few drops of sesame oil for interest. Thanks for the inspiration Debbie :o)

  10. Maybe I did something wrong, this did not have as much flavor as I expected. 🙁

  11. I need to use 2 chicken breasts (because there are 2 of us!)… any crucial change to this recipe in that event?

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