Cooking “En Papillote” is a great cooking technique to have in your culinary repertoire – it only enhances the flavor of your food and is incredibly easy!
Just a quick little post tonight to talk about my current favorite cooking method – en papillote. “En papillote” literally translates into “in paper” and is a common method used to cook food by steaming it. Other ways to steam your food include using a steamer, tiered steamer or a wok. Using steaming as your cooking method usually results in your food retaining more of its natural flavors because steaming in and of itself doesn’t usually add much flavor as water is typically what is used to steam. That being said, the different liquids you can use to enhance your foods flavor is unlimited as are the different ingredients you can combine within your “en papillote” package. It really is an under-used cooking method that is extremely easy, somewhat foolproof and can make mealtime a breeze.
To cook anything “en papillote” you are essentially just wrapping your food in parchment paper, foil, grape or banana leaves, corn husks, etc. Anything that you can wrap your food in and that is oven-safe. You will then be placing it in the oven on a cookie sheet and baking for the appropriate amount of time. Wrapped up in the parchment paper (or foil) any moisture will be trapped within your wrapping, keeping your food moist and melding any flavor profiles inside.
What to Cook:
- Proteins – you want a naturally tender protein as it won’t be cooking all that long (very different than braising, which can take hours – we are talking minutes here). Fish, chicken and shellfish are usually the go-to’s.
- Vegetables – I would suggest mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, leeks, onions … anything that isn’t too firm (large carrots might not cook fully), but really there aren’t too many rules here. You can cook vegetables all by themselves in a marinade or use them as the “bed” for your protein” (for an example of this see: Miso Salmon en Papillote).
- Aromatics/Spices – cooking en papillote is the perfect time to have some fun with aromatics. The steam is going to pull those flavors right out and put them right into your protein. Lemon zest, fresh thyme, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and other fresh herbs and spices all work wonderfully.
- Liquid – marinading your vegetables and/or protein beforehand is a great way to work some liquid into your “en papillote” recipe. Otherwise, simply adding a little chicken stock, olive oil, butter or soy sauce (depending, of course, what you are cooking) all work great!
There are so many different types of “en papillote” depending upon where you are in the world. This is just a tiny little look into this awesome cooking technique!
Once you pick your protein and some vegetables to go with it, pick an appropriate liquid (you don’t need a lot) and some aromatics. Wrap it up in parchment or foil and bake for the appropriate amount of time. Sometimes, depending upon what I am cooking, I unwrap it and broil my protein for just a few minutes. Serve with a starch like rice, couscous or potato (or go super crazy and add some sliced potatoes inside for a complete “one-pot” en papillote package.
Serving your dinner guests with their own individual dinner wrapped up in parchment and kitchen twine always wins points for presentation!
Here is a quick visual breakdown:
Pick your protein and/or vegetables…
Add some aromatics, spices, and liquid…
Wrap it up with a bow…
Unwrap and devour.
Here is another example of the Miso Salmon:
Seriously, so simple and so delicious. Both of these recipes have become favorites…..
I will be posting the recipe for the Simple Salmon En Papillote on Thursday – so stay tuned!
Homework: design your own “en Papillote” dinner and report back! Seriously, do it.