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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!