En papi – what?

For those of you in the midst of the Lent, en papillote is a great cooking method for those dreaded meatless Fridays.

En papillote, in French means, “in parchment.” This method is most often used with fish, but can be also applied to poultry.

Let’s start with the science behind en papillote. En papillote is a method of cooking in which food is enclosed in parchment paper and placed in an oven. Vegetables, herbs and a liquid are included in the pouch. This creates an environment in which the natural moisture of the food, along with the additional liquid produces steam which cooks the food. All of the flavors intermingle wonderfully to produce a moist, delicious piece of fish.

If this is your first time trying this method, stick with the recipe I’ve provided below. If you’re familiar with the method, spice things up a bit. Try different combinations of herbs, liquids and vegetables. However, stick to a few rules of thumb:

  1. Delicate and thinner cuts of protein work the best. Stick with non-oily, white fleshed fish for the best results. Chicken and shellfish also yield great results.
  2. The sky’s the limit when it comes to vegetables, but keep in mind, that they need to be prepared in a manner which will allow them to finish cooking at the same time as your protein. That being said, items with longer cooking times, such as carrots or celery, need to be cut smaller so they cook faster. If you’re using a fast cooking veggie like zucchini, you will want to leave those in bigger pieces.
  3. Don’t worry if the parchment paper starts to turn brown – it’s supposed to. Generally, when the parchment is ballooning and turning brown, your meal is just about done.

Snapper En Papillote

  • 2 (8-oz), red snapper fillets
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 leek, julienned
  • 1 small carrot, julienned
  • 1 celery stalk, julienned
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Cut the parchment paper into a heart shape large enough to hold the fish and vegetables. Lightly brush the inside of the paper with oil. Place half of the vegetables on one side of the paper, and then place the fish on top. Evenly distribute the remaining vegetables on top of the fish and dot with butter. Lay the lemon slices on top and sprinkle with parsley. Pour the wine over the fish. Fold over the edges of the parchment, crimp and make a tight seal. Place on baking sheet and put into oven for 12-14 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Carefully open and enjoy!

1 comment

  1. Ganga October 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm Reply

    Interesting, I thought you would be pttrey heavy into the swimmers I used to be a beef lover, the T-bone steak or a nice rib eye steak my top choices for a nice dinner but more and more I lean towards fish and seafood in general. Cannot have enough!We are still in L.A. in fact, we leave only on Dec 2nd, so ten more days to go, and a ton of work ahead (sigh)Not jealous of your snow .. It would probably kill me, or at least put me in a completely rotten mood edited to add: about the tilapia, those filets tend to be on the thin side, I wonder if they would overcook by the time the crumbs were golden. I remember seeing a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated in which the crumbs were toasted before hand or maybe it was in Fine Cooking? Maybe you could try that, saute the crumbs just a little bit, then press them on the tilapia and bake until done definitely less than 15 minutes

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