Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”.
Cod en papillote. Sounds fancy doesn't it? Looks fancy too. The French have a way of making everything très chic.
"En papillote" means "in parchment." You fold your ingredients into a piece of parchment paper (or a paper bag or even aluminum foil) then bake until cooked.
Simple, and yet serving something en papillote definitely adds drama to your dining table. You place the parcel on a plate and it arrives at the table like a gift. Your guest opens the packet to a celebratory puff of aromatic steam. Et voilà!
The main trick is folding the parchment properly so that none of the heat or liquid escapes. For this recipe, I used the traditional technique, in which you place your food on a heart-shaped piece of parchment paper, then make little folds all along the edge. It worked great, no leaks.
My choice of ingredients wasn't as successful. I used cod, which turned out moist and flavorful. But the combination of zucchini, which released too much water, and lemon juice, which overpowered the other ingredients, didn't work out too well.
I'd try this again with cod, but maybe go for a more Asian flavor. Perhaps put the cod on a base of baby bok choy. Then flavor the dish with soy sauce, scallions and sliced ginger.
Done properly, en papillote is a healthy and flavorful way to cook. Not to mention, très dramatique!
Start by preparing your veggies. I julienned zucchini with my julienne peeler, then tossed it with fresh thyme and some lemon juice. I also sliced up some lemon.
Now prepare your parchment. To do so, take a sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half. Draw a heart.
Then cut it out.
Place half of the heart on your baking sheet. Place a small pile of zucchini or another vegetable in the center of the half.
Place a piece of fish on top of the zucchini, then cover with a couple of lemon slices.
On top of that, add another small pile of zucchini. Season with salt, pepper and a little olive oil.
Starting at the top of the heart, start making little folds along the edge. Have each fold overlap part of the previous fold. When you're done, retwist any parts that are coming loose.
Bake the fish for about 15 minutes until it is cooked. If the parchment was properly sealed, it will puff up slightly and turn golden brown.
Place the parchment packet on a plate and bring it to the table as is so that your guests can open their packets at the table.
Cod En Papillote
3 6-oz pieces cod fillet
2 small zucchini
1 tsp fresh thyme
3 pieces parchment paper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Prepare parchment. Fold each piece of parchment in half. Draw half a heart on the parchment. Cut out heart shape.
3. Pat fish dry. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. Thinly julienne zucchini. Zest lemon, then cut into slices. Toss zucchini with lemon zest and thyme.
5. Put parchment on baking sheet. Place a small mound of zucchini in the center of one half of the parchment heart. Place a cod filet on zucchini, then cover with 2 or 3 slices of lemon. Place more zucchini on top. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Repeat with remaining parchment.
6. To seal the parchment, begin making small folds beginning at the top of the parchment heart. Overlap each fold with each preceding fold. Refold any sections that start to come loose.
7. Place baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked and the parchment is slightly puffed and golden.
8. Transfer parchment packets to plates. Bring them the table and allow your guests to cut them open.