“En Papillote” cooking, by Peter Bradley

  • Clive
  • 31/10/2012 1:12 pm
  • Cook

I have been asked to offer a regular column on food trends; new, normal and sometimes extreme cooking techniques but always fun recipes occasionally with a surreal angle.

My name is Peter Bradley. I have a lifelong passion for cooking and I spend hours surfing all the food related blogs and sites both here and abroad. I’ll tell you how to make ice cream without an ice-cream maker and how articulate artichokes can be.I will regularly highlight food events and point you towards the fun food related topics I find.

To start this off, I’m going to cover a classic cooking technique, “En papillote’ or “al cartoccio”, in Italian.

 

What is “En Papillote”?

Well, it’s “in parchment”. Basically cooking things in a form of parcel, be it parchment, paper or foil. It’s a “moist heat” or “moisture retentive” form of cooking.

I am going to show you some recipes using brown paper bags and corn husks which you may not have thought of using and follow this with some unusual and very easy  dessert recipes which can be cooked either on a barbecue or in the oven.

Pick a nice, full-flavoured oil. Sea Bass can handle a good, punchy oil and still come out on top. Prepare a julienne (think of a julienne as match stick sized slices) of vegetables to add some colour to the dish. Courgette, Carrot, Sweet Potato and Red Pepper all work well.

If you have some, add Fennel if you like it. These are placed in the bag with the fish, a knob of butter and a fistful of herbs: Mint, Dill, Tarragon and I particularly like using Sorrel.

I’m going to start off with one of my favourite party tricks: cooking fish in a brown paper bag. It is not an original idea of mine but from one of my favourite chefs, Bob Blumer’s book: Off the Eaten Path.
Any good old-fashioned greengrocer should be able to give you a few brown paper bags which you will need for the following recipe. Most firm fish works well, I particularly like using Sea Bass fillets.

Firstly, you will need to coat the bags with a little olive oil. Turn the bags inside out and put a little bit of olive oil on your hands and rub the bags with them. Turn them back around and you’re ready to fill them with flavour.

    
Pick a nice, full-flavoured oil. Sea Bass can handle a good, punchy oil and still come out on top.

Prepare a julienne (think of a julienne as match stick sized slices) of vegetables to add some colour to the dish. Courgette, Carrot, Sweet Potato and Red Pepper all work well. If you have some, add Fennel if you like it.

These are placed in the bag with the fish, a knob of butter and a fistful of herbs: Mint, Dill, Tarragon and I particularly like using Sorrel.

If you happen to have some in your garden this gives a nice lemon flavour. But wait! You could throw in some Gooseberries or Rhubarb! Told you this would be fun.

I add lemon zest and a couple of glugs of white wine. Pick something with flavour, don’t just throw in alcohol: add flavour. I’ve always said, “One for the meal, one for me, four for my guests”. If you don’t want to drink it, don’t cook with it.

Just because it’s a French dish, doesn’t mean you should stick to the theme. Try a Penfolds Chardonnay, Bin 311 is especially full and round.

Now, once all the ingredients are in the oiled bag, fold it up. Tie it up as if it was a present. Use string, it works well and looks good.

Cook in the oven at 180°C for about 20 minutes on a baking tray in the middle of the oven.

Then serve, in the papillote with the string. Your guests won’t know what is in the bag. The aroma from the wine, fish and herbs when they tear it open, will be something they have never had before. Less, in this case, is so much more.

Serve simply with a green salad for a light and very pretty main course. But don’t forget the connectivity of flavours. Add some fresh sorrel to your salad. Cut a few fresh Gooseberries into it. Sprinkle a few yellow Pansy petals over your salad. Above all, remember to have fun with your food.

If you want more, add some Game Chips. Finely slice (and I mean thinly unless you have a Mandolin) some Desiree or Maris Pipers into rounds. Rinse them in cold water to wash out the starch, dry them with a towel and deep fry them in rapeseed or fine sunflower oil. If you really want to play: julienne the potatoes, wash them once sliced, fry in the oil and stir frequently so they don’t stick together. Lift from the pan and drain. The potatoes should be the last thing you do, so be prepared. When you serve, make a small pile of the crispy indulgences between the papillote and the salad.

Until next time, eat recklessly, try everything, drink with friends and have fun.

Yours,

Peter.
 





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