Enclosing your ingredients in paper before baking, also known as en papillote, is a healthy way to cook and a simple way to create a novel and aesthetically pleasing meal. As the parcels heat up in the oven the natural juices from your dish are trapped inside the parcel preserving and intensifying the flavours of your dish as it cooks.
You can make parcels like this to cook a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. It is traditional to serve the parcels unopened straight out of the oven so that your dinner guests (/hungry OH and LOs) can enjoy the fragrance wafting out as they unravel the paper to reveal their entrée.
How it’s done:
- Preheat your oven to 200ºC and chop your veggies and/or meat and add any spices you are using. You can add the tiniest bit of oil or butter as well but the beauty of cooking en papillote is that the steam formed from the natural juices contained in the food cooks the food with little or no fat required.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough so that when place your raw ingredients in a small mound the middle they take up about half of the space on the paper.
- Wrap the edges of the paper up around your ingredients to form a little ball. You should have a couple of inches of excess paper on top.
- Take a few inches of string and tie really tightly around the neck of the parcel.making sure the parcel is fully closed.
- Pop on a baking tray in the oven for 20-30 min depending on the type of dish you are preparing.
The trick is to make sure your parcels are fully sealed so that the moisture stays in during cooking. This style of cooking works best if at least one of your ingredients has a high water content; Aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms are perfect for this. If your are cooking only root vegetables like carrots and parsnips you may want to add a bit of extra moisture to the parcel to aid the process.
I would love to hear what your favourite food combinations are to cook en papillote.
Au revoir and Happy Weaning