Thursday, January 24, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Chicken and Veggies in Foil Packets

In keeping with January's low-fat, light and easy...making individual foil packets is a great way to please everyone at dinner time. It’s also a perfect way to prepare and freeze low fat meals for those with busy lifestyles.

The food is essentially steamed, which makes for moist and succulent meat or fish. The concept is to entirely enclose the food in a bag or packet that will allow the food to baste in its own juices - or some minimal amount of added liquid or fat - while steaming in the oven. The process allows the food to stay moist and enhances any natural sweetness.

Classic French cooking employs a technique called “en papillote” – a phrase that used in a recipe title can scare off many cooks (although it translates to “butterfly”). So when Reynolds Aluminum began marketing the “en papillote” technique as a way to sell aluminum foil, they used the name “packet cooking”. Packet cooking is easy, produces a dish that can be deliciously low fat, and leaves minimal cleanup requirements. I also like the idea of preparing 3 or 4 different packets to freeze. Put them in the fridge before you leave for work and pop them in the oven when you get home. Dinner will be ready in a FLASH!

How to make the packet is up to the cook. Parchment paper is the traditional material used, but I find it easier to use aluminum foil (Reynolds now sells precut aluminum packets for this purpose). Make sure to use a 12” x 18” piece of foil and place the food in the middle. Bring your sides up and double fold. Then fold the ends to seal the pocket. The method works great in the oven and also on your BBQ. If you are going to freeze several packets, place them in a large zip lock bag – this way you can label your packets





4 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves
1 cup canned tomato sauce
2 cups thinly sliced zucchini
1 cup canned corn, drained
1/2 cup canned sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Tear off 4 large sheets of aluminum foil; mist with cooking spray.

3. Place a chicken-breast half on each sheet. Top each with 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup zucchini, 1/4 cup corn, 2 tablespoons mushrooms and 1/4 cup mozzarella.

4. Fold foil over and roll up edges, sealing securely. Place packets on baking sheet; bake 30 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes before opening. Slide contents of each packet onto plates and serve with pasta or rice, if desired.