The most impressive dish you will ever make - it makes marriages!
'You are a brave man.'
These are the exact words that passed my Dad's lips a few weeks ago to my boyfriend Gareth, when he asked if he could marry me. I couldn't possibly comment on what he was insinuating but what has followed (I said yes...) has been the most wonderful couple of weeks of celebration and champagne drinking. I have been genuinely touched by the cards, advice and kind words from so many people.
We had a lovely celebratory family meal and we were talking all about how to win the affections of our other halves and some of the silly, rude, bizarre and darn right odd things we had done, Charlie, my brother, was talking about what he used to cook for girls as his impressive "date" dish and this chicken dish was it. It must work as married the last girl he cooked it for...
This recipe is made "en papillote" which means baking the whole lot in a paper parcel. It is really easy and an amazing way of keeping all the juices and flavours locked in. You can mix up the vegetables that go in the parcel to your liking - try other things like Swiss chard, kale, parsnips....the leafy lighter vegetables are better placed on top of the chicken and the harder rootier ones beneath.
2 chicken breasts
2 rashers bacon
1 leek sliced into thin-medium rounds
1 grated carrot
1 stick of celery chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed or finely chopped
1 courgette sliced into ribbons using a peeler or chopped into thin rounds
A couple sprigs of thyme
Good slosh of white wine
1) Pre heat the oven to 180C. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprig and roll the chicken breasts in the leaves. Then wrap each breast in the bacon.
2) Take a piece of grease proof paper the size of an A3 piece of paper and fold it in half. Place half of the leeks in the centre of one of the halves. The leeks will be in little rings, try and separate them out so there are no leek clumps. Sprinkle over the garlic and celery , place half the grated carrot on top. Add the chicken breast on top of that.
3) Arrange half the sliced/ chopped courgettes around the bed of leeks and chicken. Place half the grated carrot on top. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Drizzle over olive oil and a short glug (about a tablespoon) of white wine over the whole lot.
5) Fold the other half of the paper over the whole lot and fold round the edges, almost crimping to seal the whole lot in - make sure there are no gaps! See picture.
6) Slide onto a baking tray with sides and bake in the pre heated oven for 30 mins.
7) Remove from the oven and serve either in the paper - I like this and it provides a bit of drama on your plate - or empty the contents out onto the plate. Serve with sweet potato mash and a few extra thyme leaves for decoration.