The French word en papillote means “in paper”. It’s a lovely technique that requires minor cleanup afterwards. Cooking en papillote is the combination of baking and steaming in a hot oven. The food cooks in its juices. You can use parchment paper or tin foil – I’ve used both. If hosting a dinner party, these packets are a tease for your guests. Once opened the aromas tickle their senses. And because it takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook (depending on how thick the fillet is), you can make this as a mid-week dinner. Use the recipe below as a guideline. Remove the zucchini and add thinly sliced potato or substitute fish for chicken. This method of cooking also works well with vegetables. A dish that is easy, elegant, and healthy.
you will need
dense fish fillets such as cod, halibut, or salmon (pat dry with a paper towel)
1 zucchini, sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
half red onion, thinly sliced
olives, chopped (I used a combo of kalamata and castelvetrano)
Preheat oven to 400f (205c). Grab a sheet of parchment paper large enough to hold the fish. Fold this in half. Arrange zucchini slices on the paper. The slices should cover the length of the cod fillet. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a layer of tomato slices then top with a fish fillet. Tuck the tail end under. Top with a few sprigs of fresh fennel. Again, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add onion slices, garlic, and lemon slices. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top. Fold the top half of the parchment paper over the bottom half, then tightly roll up the edges around the cod. Repeat this process.
Place the packets on a baking sheet and place them in the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness). To serve, use a knife to pierce the center of each parchment packet, and open it up before serving. Or, if entertaining, let your guests open their own packets.
the culinary chase’s note:
Serve with a fresh chunk of baguette and mop up the juices. Enjoy!