Have you ever walked in the door a long day of work to a warm kitchen filled with the sweet scent of garlic and herbs floating through the air, mingling with your senses and signaling that dinner is moments away?
It's a dream for me too.
However, I've got a really good consolation recipe for the days when you can't employ a personal chef bustling away in your kitchen, but wish you had.
Preparing a meal "en papillote" simply means cooking components together in a sealed parchment paper pouch. Oh the joy! My fish, veggies, and a delectable sauce all cooking in harmony, flavors intermingling in individually portioned packages.
While most lean proteins will fare just fine with this cooking method, it is most traditionally reserved for fish, and is especially quick, with a total cooking time of 15 minutes or less, resulting in a wonderfully moist and flavorful dish. Maybe I'll have time to kick up my feet and flip through that magazine after all.
For cooking en papillote, you can use your favorite choice of fish. Salmon, halibut, haddock, and fluke all work well. I've chosen a light and flaky white fish, flounder, for today's recipe. You'll also want to be sure to use parchment paper, not wax paper or aluminum foil, to avoid leakage or negative reaction with the acidic ingredients.
Also, to keep things relatively simple, I've outlined to cut the parchment paper into squares. However, taking your craft skills one step further and cutting the folded paper into a heart shape creates a more precise cooking packet. The most important part is to just make sure that the edges are creased and tightly sealed.
Flounder en Papillote with Chive Butter
- 4-8 oz. flounder fillets, skinned and deboned
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 Tbs. fresh chives, finely sliced
- 4 pieces of parchment paper cut into 12-inch squares (or hearts)
- Steamed brown rice (optional)
To make chive butter:
- 1. Combine softened butter, chives, and a pinch of salt. Mix well, cover and set aside. Can be made well ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
En papillote, method:
- 1. Fold each parchment paper square in half, crease well, and unfold so the crease is vertical.
- 2. Place a fish fillet on the right side of the parchment paper. Season lightly with a dash of salt and pepper, and the juice of 1 quarter of lemon per fillet. Top each with 1-2 tsp. of chive butter and a handful of the sliced tomatoes.
- 3. Fold the left half of the parchment paper over the fish. Starting at the bottom of the crease line, make a fold and crease tightly to seal. Continue to make folds over one another to seal the entire package. The result will look like a rough half circle.
- Once you work your way all around to the top crease line, fold the tip down under the package. Be sure to firmly press down on all the folds and ensure that the package is sealed tightly. If there are any gaps or loose folds, the steaming process won't work properly, and all the juices will leak out of the package during cooking.
- 4. Place the packages onto a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Pouches will inflate slightly during cooking process.
- 5. Remove packets from oven, and place each onto serving plate. Very carefully pierce the top of each package, and cut open to reveal the meal inside. Serve as is, or pour the entire contents of the pouch over rice or your favorite grain for a heartier option.