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One French word, plus a French recipe: beurre à l’ail

Beurre à l’ail, masculine noun (le beurre à l’ail, du beurre à l’ail) = garlic butter (beurre = butter, ail = garlic) (pronounced ber a l’aïe, a difficult one to transcribe! You don’t hear the l at the end of ail).

No expressions here, but lots of ways to use this delicious and useful butter. You can make garlic bread, baked potatoes with garlic butter, you can stuff snails or shellfish (mussels, clams), pop a chunk on top of a steak. But my recipe for today will use it to stuff a chicken breast.


Garlic at the market


The basic recipe for 125gr of garlic butter (about one American stick, or half a pat of salted butter) is to take the butter out of the fridge, put it in a bowl and let it get good and soft. On top, crush or grate one clove of garlic and add three heaped tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, a little more salt, very little, and a several grinds of the pepper mill. Mix thoroughly.

This butter freezes very well of course, and it is useful to have a roll on hand. Form it into a sausage shape, cover with cling film, and put it in a ziplock bag. It needs double wrapping so that it does not contaminate the whole freezer with a garlic smell! Still frozen, you can chop off the quantity you need.

The variations on this theme are endless, using shallott instead of garlic, chives instead of parsley, even fresh nettles in Spring. You can add a little lemon juice or make a completely lemon butter with grated zest, juice and some parsley, excellent with fish. Blue cheese and parsley butter is good on steak. And so on, your imagination is the limit. And in fact, you may think you really didn’t need me to give you this “recipe”, but all I’m doing is reminding you of possibilities you may have forgotten.

I use garlic butter to stuff chicken breast (du blanc de poulet, remember?).

Poulet à l'ail before cooking

Blanc de poulet, fendu, avec du beurre à l’ail

One chicken breast per person:


  1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. On a wooden board, press down on the chicken breast with one hand, and use a sharp knife to cut a pocket (fendre=to split, fendu (past participle) = split)  one side of the breast. This pocket should stop about 2cm from the ends and should reach just over  half way through.
  3. Fill the pocket with a generous helping of garlic butter and put a little more butter on top of the breast, to moisten it, and some pepper (no extra salt needed), before wrapping the meat tightly in foil or greaseproof paper to prevent the butter from escaping too far when it melts.
  4. Cook  for 20 minutes. Serve with salad, or a green vegetable such as beans, and plain boiled new or small potatoes.
Blanc de poulet

Blanc de poulet, beurre à l’ail

If you buy a tray of several fresh chicken breasts, these can be prepared in advance and frozen, wrapped up ready to pop in the oven. Count 30-35mns cooking time if you put them frozen into a preheated oven. A really quick supper dish – you just have time to prepare the vegetables while the chicken is cooking.

Bon appétit


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

6 responses »

  1. That looks like an awful lot of butter! But the chicken breast was a very small one…

  2. Guess what I’ll be doing with my next pack of chicken breasts!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Love, love, love garlic!!! I usually triple the amount called for, especially if the recipe comes from the more anglofied east coast of the U.S. I saw an old movie once where Italian-Americans were vilified as “garlic eaters”. I suppose anglofied is not a word. I wonder what would be a good substitute?

    • Me too I love garlic, and it’s so good for you. I use as much in a week as some people use in a year!
      No, “anglofied” is not a word, but your meaning comes across! What about English-minded? Although the English use more and more garlic nowadays.

  4. WOW! I love garlic and this looks like an amazing recipe! I’ll have to make it sometime!


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