Curried Chicken en Papillote should hardly be considered a revolutionary act. But then neither should being able to feed yourself. Sadly, the latter now seems to be. Or at least so says none other than Jamie Oliver , who has taken it upon himself to start a global campaign purposed with reinstating food curriculum in our youth’s schools. To that end, today is his fourth annual Food Revolution Day intended to engage and inspire young people to learn about food and how to cook it.
It kind of blows my mind that a kid today could grow up without learning the basic life skill of knowing how to cook a healthy meal for themselves. If this particular food blog is about anything, it is about the how the generational continuity and sharing of food and its preparation has storied my entire life. So it just goes to say that if a kid doesn’t know how to cook for himself he or she will grow into a parent that can’t teach that same skill. How sad is that?
It has been something of an annual tradition for my Dorista pals and I to participate in Food Revolution Day. We typically do this by exploring a recipe or technique either gleaned or further perfected by means of our participation in the French Fridays with Dorie cooking project. I mean, it is not all souffle-making and pastry here folks. We often tackle things basic and easily mastered — any one of them just might be that “must know” recipe with the potential to set some young person off on a lifetime culinary journey.
This year I have selected “en papillote” and this Curried Chicken en Papillote to present for Food Revolution Day. Not only is en papillote one easy cooking method but also it is something easily shared with kids. The meal is cooked by putting all of the ingredients into a folded pouch made of parchment or foil and then baking it. The parcel steams the food in its moisture (although you can add wine, stock, etc.) and cooks it all up to perfection, infusing it with whatever flavors you have added. The fact that the method requires very little (if any) fat to cook means it also a healthy way to cook. When the packets are taken to the table, and everyone opens them up to free the aroma and the steam, this moment of showmanship is sure to win over anyone.
Curried Chicken en Papillote
I first cooked this way back when I was 13 years old and going on weekend camping trips with the Boy Scouts. The Dorista’s first experience with en papillote was back in July of 2011 when we made Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote . It is a simple preparation for salmon, infusing it with lemon, basil and thyme and allows you cook the veggies right along with it. The salmon bore little resemblance to the foil packets of plainly seasoned hamburger and onions the Boy Scout Handbook had taught us cook on the flames during camp outs.
If only I had experienced my Food Revolution moment with a little help from Dorie Greenspan.
This is what you will need:
- 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, preferably organic, at room temperature
- 12 thin slices red onion, halved
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp curry powder
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
This is how you make it:
- Center rack in oven and preheat the oven to 400° F. Cut four 12-inch squares of nonstick aluminum foil. Have a baking sheet at hand.
- Cut chicken into long strips and then cut strips crosswise in half. Put chicken and all other ingredients in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper, and stir until curry powder has evenly colored chicken and vegetables. Spoon an equal amount of mix onto center of each piece of foil. Draw up edges of foil and seal packets well, but don’t crimp foil very close to chicken — you want to leave room around ingredients so they can steam.
- Bake the papillotes for 17 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through — carefully open a packet and cut into a piece of chicken to test.
- Serve the packets immediately, bringing them to the table straight from the oven or opening them in the kitchen and arranging the chicken and vegetables on individual plates.
Food Revolution Day brings out the adventurous writer in me. The guy out in the world looking for cooking inspiration! This chicken curry dish represents a great “fusion” of flavors with a new cuisine type. This type of outside the box thinking is a great way to start if looking to shake up your culinary horizons and try new flavors. If this type of thing excites you please check out this Though Leader piece I wrote for the Cilantro Cooks online shop and featuring my recipe for Spicy Korean Tofu Tacos .
And now that summer is officially here we are all thinking about taking our cooking outside. Did you know I’m a Thought Leader on this important cooking topic too? I am! Check out my recent piece at FoodyDirect with some great tips for taking your outdoor grilling up a notch. Grilling Goes Gourmet!