France isn’t exactly renowned for low-fat recipes, but here are three classic chicken dishes
specially adapted to provide a healthy, low-fat alternative. They are quick and simple to
prepare and cook – and they are all delicious!
1: Chicken with Pernod & Saffron
Here’s an excellent low-fat chicken recipe using the classic combination of Pernod, saffron,
garlic, tomatoes and olive oil. The taste is truly sensational!
Mix together one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, 125ml of Pernod (or other pastis),
a few strands of saffron and some salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over eight unskinned
chicken portions and mix well together. Leave for a couple of hours (or even overnight)
for the flavours to develop.
Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan. Take the chicken pieces out
of the marinade and drain well. Add them to the pan. Cook over a moderate heat, turning once,
until lightly browned on both sides. Remove and set aside.
Add two finely sliced shallots to the pan and sweat gently until softened but not browned. Then
add 4-5 large tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly chopped, together with 3 crushed cloves
of garlic. Cook all together for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Now put the chicken joints
back in the pan. Add about 400ml of hot chicken stock, plus any left-over marinade. Bring to a
simmer, then lower the heat and cook gently for about 20 minutes.
Check the seasoning. Sprinkle with some finely chopped parsley or tarragon, and serve immediately
with a couple of fresh vegetables of your choice. (Serves 4 people.)
2: Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Yes, it’s a lot of garlic! But you’ll be surprised at the delicacy and fragrance of the final taste. If you like, you can blanch the garlic for a couple of minutes beforehand – but it’s not really necessary.
Preheat the oven to180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Take a large, free-range, farm-reared chicken and season it well inside and out with salt and pepper.
Rub it all over with a little olive oil. (Not too much – this is supposed to be a low-fat recipe!) Put
about 20 unpeeled cloves of garlic inside the cavity, plus a few sprigs of fresh tarragon.
Put the chicken in a suitably sized roating tin and strew over another 20 or so unpeeled garlic cloves.
Now add about 200ml hot chicken stock.
Place in the preheated oven and cook for one hour, basting every now and again with the cooking
juices. Check that the bird is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with the point of a
sharp knife. If the juices run clear, it’s ready. If they are still a bit pink, put the bird back in the oven
and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
For a truly low-fat chicken dish, remove the skin of the cooked chicken (it should come away quite
easily) before serving. Serve the chicken cut into portions with all the garlic cloves popped out of
their skins and scattered around, and the light, aromatic cooking juices poured over. The garlic can
be spread on slices of French bread that have been lightly browned in a low oven and then drizzled
with a little olive oil. Very authentic! (Serves 4-5 people).
3: Supreme of Chicken with Honey & Lime
This is a spectacularly easy dish!
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark5.
For four people, take four skinned and flattened chicken breasts and season well with salt and
pepper. Lay them side by side in one layer in a shallow ovenproof dish.
Mix together the juice of 2 limes, 2 tablespoons of good-quality runny honey, 2 peeled and crushed
cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves and 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
Pour this mixture over the chicken breasts and bake for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven,
basting from time to time with the cooking juices, until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced
with a sharp knife point.
Serve with some plainly steamed fresh vegetables and/or a dressed rocket salad.
How easy is that?
I hope you enjoy these low-fat chicken recipes from France. Chicken can certainly provide a whole range
of healthy, low-fat meals – but only if you take the time and trouble to seek out free-range, farm-reared,
corn-fed, preferably organic birds. Believe me its well worth the hassle!