Although it sounds très glamorous, cooking en papillote is quick and simple.
En papillote is just French for a method of cooking where you wrap your meal in parchment paper and let the steam do the cooking.
The resulting meal can actually be served directly out of the paper used for cooking, meaning you’ll save the time spent on one fewer load of dishes.
Ingredients and papillote combined will only set you back about $10 for two people, which is a bargain for such an elegant dish.
There are a few rules about what can be cooked en papillote, so read on to learn this new technique, and then cook it with your own twist (or wrap!).
How to Cook en Papillote
Seafood is ideal because it cooks quickly, but you can also use chicken breast—just make sure to pound the meat no thicker than an inch to safeguard against undercooking. Going vegetarian? Throw some quinoa and shitake mushrooms into the parchment. Or add some sliced vegetables, along with a dash of oil and another flavoring (wine, sherry, tequila, sake or even V-8 juice), to the mix.
The wrapping is much easier than it looks. Take a 16-inch piece of parchment paper (that's the traditional way, but you can also use aluminum foil if it's more convenient), fold it in half, and cut it into a heart shape. Open the halves and rub one side, where you will pile your fillings, with some type of oil to prevent the protein from sticking to the paper.
Pile your fillings on the oiled half, then fold the other half on top. Start in the middle of the halved heart and keep folding the edges of the parchment over onto itself, snugly sealing the food inside. Lay the parchment onto a cookie sheet and pop it into the oven or store it in the fridge until needed. If you’re storing for later use, remember to bring the fish to room temperature before placing it into the oven.
And a word to the wise: Beware of the steam that escapes when you cut it open!
Salmon en Papillote
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
A dash of olive oil
6 ounces salmon
1 leek, white and light green only, sliced thin
1 carrot, shredded
1 tablespoon jalapeño, minced
3 ounces tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 tablespoons white wine
Follow the above directions to prepare your wrappings, then place the package on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 F for 10 minutes for medium-rare salmon.
Want more? Check out our bonus recipe for scallops en papillote here!
Image: The Reluctant Gourmet