The summer season is almost over. Now it’s time to lose a few pounds before the holidays hit us hard (at least for me). En papillote is a method of cooking that omits oil and other fats such as butter. Instead, you steam-bake the items, seasonings, and if desired, a small amount of broth or wine, in parchment paper. (Aluminum foil is avoided as it can leach into your food.) The natural juices of poultry, fish, vegetables and fruit entwine and develop amazing flavor without oil or fat. You can steam-bake vegetables by themselves, too. Be sure to read the “Tips” section below to find out how to make my favorite en papillote chicken recipe.
En papillote cooking is so easy, you have to try it once and you’ll be hooked! It can turn pungent fish such as mackerel into a delightful and healthful dish. You can even make low-carb dishes by substituting starch (rice, potatoes, pasta and bread) for additional veggies.
En Papillote: Cooking in Parchment Paper Without Oil
Omit oil and butter and instead use the heat of your oven to steam fish, poultry and vegetables, allowing the flavors to mingle, creating amazing flavor. Saving on the calories is just a bonus.
- 18-inch sheet of parchment paper
- Fish or poultry of choice
- Thinly sliced vegetables (sweet peppers, onion, carrots, etc.)
- Desired herbs and seasonings (garlic powder, parsley, basil, etc.)
- A couple squeezes of lemon juice (or gluten-free chicken broth for poultry) (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Add main ingredient, in this case fish, to the center of the parchment sheet length-wise. Top with seasonings, vegetables and lemon, as desired.
- Fold the top third over the ingredients. Then fold the bottom third over, as well.
- Twist the ends using a paper-covered twist-tie (not plastic). Then transfer the package to a rimmed baking sheet. You can also use a cast iron pan or dutch oven, if desired. They both hold more heat than the average baking sheet and may cook your dish faster. However, when baking a ton of vegetables that hold a lot of water such as zucchini, it catches the juices that may leak out.
- Bake the fish, chicken, and/or vegetables between 25 and 30 minutes or cooked to your desired temperature or tenderness.
- Carefully open the parchment and allow any steam to escape. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl and serve immediately.
You can pour in a little wine or chicken broth over a poultry or fish. Try squeezing some lemon juice over a fillet. Pound on the vegetables and fresh herbs as they provide amazing flavor. Add your favorite fruit slices, too.
One of my favorite en papillote recipes is pounded chicken breasts, layered with cheese and herbs (sometimes with bacon or prosciutto, as well). Then I roll it and seal with toothpicks. It also bakes in about 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It's so yummy!
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