Daring cooks cook in parchment “en papillote”

Our challenge this month was to cook ‘en papillote (pah-pee-YOHT)’.  This is French for ‘in parchment’.  In Italian it is called ‘al cartoccio’.  This is a method of cooking in which the food is put in a pouch or parcel of parchment or paper that is folded to encase the food .

This is a very healthy way of cooking as it requires little or no fat. These tasty en papillote packages holds in all the juices and the food cooked in it usually has  more flavour when compared to food cooked with traditional steaming. As the temperature rises the fluids in the pouch start to evaporate,the folds of the pouch trap the steam which is mixed with the flavoring agents you add (herbs, broth or seasoning)and basically cooks the food in flavored steam.Opening one of these pouches on the table should be listed as a form of aromatherapy, a little cloud of steam and a burst of tantalizing smells sure to impress and please your family and guests.

Parcel material:

Your best choice is parchment paper but other options for the parcel material would be a paper bag or aluminum foil. Various cultures use grape leaves, banana leaves, cornhusks as wrappers to make these tasty packages.You may want to choose parchment when steaming foods with a salt rub or highly acidic accent, such as vinegar, to avoid discoloration or off odors caused by a chemical reaction with the aluminum.  Do not use wax paper as it tears easily and will burn.

Choose the right food:

Remember that cooking en papillote or in parchment is best suited to tender foods think chicken breasts,flaky fish, fruits and vegetables that are naturally juicy. You also have to keep in mind the size of the food you are cooking. Think of the time your main ingredient requires to cook and slice the rest of the ingredients in a size like cooks in the same time (slice potatoes thinly  for them to cook in the same time the chicken does)

Moisture and flavor

For moisture you can either add vegetables that are naturally juicy (like tomatoes) or add broth, coconut milk, cream or juice. For flavor think of herbs, spices, juices, a little cream or flavored butter

How to fold the parchment

Fold a piece of parchment in half, draw half a heart shape

Cut it

Place the food in the middle of the heart

Start folding little folds at one end of the pouch

Go along the edge folding and then twist the end

Blog-checking lines:Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”

I made two variables. One with chicken oregano and lemon and the other with peaches. I have to say that it is hard to decide which I liked better! The chicken came out so juicy and full of flavor it almost melts in your mouth. The peaches were honestly the perfect summer dessert,the cinnamon and orange blended beautifully with the peach flavors, the brown sugar added a sweet note. the streusel topping provided crunchy contrast. Top with a scoop of ice cream and enjoy the cold warm contrast.   The best part is that both recipes were super easy to make, 10 minutes preparation, 15 in the oven and your meal is ready to enjoy.

Oregano chicken with garlic butter

For each parchment you will need

1 boneless skinless chicken breast

1 slice of lemon

2 twigs of oregano

1 teaspoon garlic butter (recipe follows)



1 teaspoons lemon juice

In each parcel place oregano, top with chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper

Top with lemon slice, butter and more oregano

Fold the parcel as shown above, arrange on a baking sheet

Place in a preheated oven( 220 C) for 20 minutes

Garlic lemon oregano butter

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1/8 teaspoon salt

Allow the butter to soften then mix it with all the other ingredients

Place the butter mix on a parchment paper and roll it enclosing it with the parchment

Freeze the butter roll

Peaches en papillote

4 peaches (one per person)

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel of one orange

4 teaspoons butter

Cut the peaches into quarters.

Toss in a bowl with the orange juice, cinnamon and sugar

Place one peach in the center of each pouch

pour 1/4 of the juice cinnamon mix

fold the pouch to enclose the peaches

Arrange pouches on a a baking sheet

Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for 15 minutes

For the streusel:

½ cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp (pinch) salt

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

Add the cubes of cold butter and work them into the flour using a pastry blender or your fingers (my preference here) until the mixture is crumbly.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat and sprinkle the crumbs over the sheet.

Transfer into the refrigerator while the oven is preheating.

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 180 C.

Bake the streusel crumbs for about 12 minutes, until they are light golden.

Gently stir the crumbs and bake for another 5-6 minutes until nicely browned.

Cool on the baking sheet on a rack.

The streusel topping can be made several days in advance. Store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

This recipe is featured on “Host Blog Link” and  http://www.foodiefriendsfriday.com  Linky Party)