It’s that time of year again — as we approach the fall and winter seasons, the days get shorter, nights get chillier and when we get home from work, our tired souls want a comforting, delicious meal that is virtually effortless to prepare and equally effortless to cook. Some might consider this request to be a tall order… but here at Dear Martini, we’ll deliver that to you gift wrapped (bow, extra)!
The concept of cooking en papillote ( in paper) is so simple. Creating an air-tight pouch using parchment paper, aluminum foil or even a simple brown paper bag delivers many benefits: the food is both steamed and roasted in its own juices, there is minimal clean-up, it’s the most flavorful form of low-fat cooking available, and the possibilities and combinations are endless!
The principles of cooking en papillote:
1) Choose a delicate, lean protein — fish, shellfish, chicken breast or tofu.
2) Select the most flavorful, colorful, piquant, aromatic garniture you can — capers, olives, ginger, herbs, shallots, lemon zest.
3) Size matters — thinner slices of protein work better, smaller pieces of garnish cook faster. Avoid huge thick chunks of anything.
4) Seal your package properly — do not let any of the precious steam escape from inside the package.
5) Rub a small amount of oil on the OUTSIDE of the package — this contributes heat delivery and makes the roasting environment hotter.
In the time it takes for your oven to reach the correct temperature (400°F), you should have your papillote package dressed and ready to go. Then, it’s only a matter of minutes (10 at the most) before it’s cooked, and you’re removing that beautifully glossy, puffy package from the oven to the table! Be very careful when cutting the package open — steam burns are quite nasty!
Salmon Fillet en Papillote
One 8-ounce salmon fillet, skin-on, pinbones removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1/4 cup julienned or shredded carrots
6 pitted olives, roughly chopped
6 halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon minced parsley
Parchment Paper (12″ x 16″) or aluminum foil
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Take a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold it in half. Draw a half-heart shape on the folded paper and trim. Open the heart and place the salmon in the center of one side of the heart. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, drizzle the olive oil over the aromatics and vegetables and toss together, season with salt and pepper. Place the vegetables on top of the salmon. Fold the other half of the heart over the salmon and begin to fold the edges together. Start at the curved end of the heart, making one folded crease 1/4-inch from the edge. Continue to make successive folds along the edge of the package, making each new fold from the center of the previous one. Keep folding along the edge, making sure each crease is flat and straight. When you reach the pointed end, fold up, then fold back, tucking it underneath the package.
Transfer the package to a baking sheet or any pan and drizzle a couple of drops of oil over the top. Use your fingertips to spread the oil over the surface of the package and bake for 10 minutes, or until the package is browned and puffy.
Remove from the oven and let it rest for a minute or two. It will start to deflate. Carefully cut around the edges to open the package. Lift the salmon up from the package and transfer to a plate. Spoon the vegetables and any sauce drippings from the package on top. Serve immediately.