I love using the en Papillote method of cooking. It’s our favourite way to cook fish and it also works really well for chicken (though for chicken I open up the package near the end of the cooking time so that it browns a little). Vary the liquid, the herbs and seasonings, add some fruit or vegetables – use whatever you have on hand that complements the protein you’re cooking. Or, go vegetarian and oven-steam summer squash or zucchini.
I have to admit that the flavour and tenderness that this method brings aren’t actually my favourite part of cooking en Papillote. It’s the clean up. I hate doing dishes and oven roasting can mean a lot more time in front of the sink than I wish to spend. There’s no scrubbing with en Papillote. And that always gets my vote.
That’s not to say that the result isn’t a big selling point in itself. The steam that builds up in the package infuses what you’re cooking with the flavours of the seasonings, while making it extremely tender. The liquid can even be used to make a nice pan sauce.
This week’s French Fridays recipe has all of these qualities, but it’s the way that the dish is constructed that makes it special. The ingredients are layered so that when it’s served, the dish looks elegant enough for a dinner party. The flavours of whole basil leaves, thick slabs of salmon, lemon slices and chopped scallions make it worthy of company, too. I used dried thyme, but sprigs of rosemary or thyme are called for in the recipe and would add nicely to the presentation.
This meal is good enough that I wouldn’t even mind cleaning up afterward.
You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote