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Secrets to Cooking En Papillote

Enhance flavour and minimize mess by cooking delicious en papillote like a pro.

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Preparing food in folded parchment paper is a classic French technique that uses steam to cook bundles of fish, chicken, meat, eggs, grains and vegetables. Known as en papillote, the method reduces kitchen mess by eliminating the need for pots and pans. And even though it doesn’t call for butter or oil, it promises moist and tender results. Here’s how it’s done.

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Step 1: Heat oven to 400°F (200°C). Fold a 15-inch (38-cm) square piece of parchment paper in half. Begin from the folded edge and cut out a half heart so that when unfolded, the paper will be heart-shaped.

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Step 2: Place main ingredient on one half of the paper, in the larger part of the heart. Arrange sliced vegetables, herbs and spices or sauce on top. Fold the heart in half to cover filling.

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Step 3: Make small folds, beginning from the top, overlapping as you go, to seal the edge until you reach the end. Twist end to secure. Place on a baking sheet and bake until parcels fully puff up, filling with steam, about 20 (for veggies) to 30 minutes (for fish or chicken).

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Tips for En Papillote Perfection

  • Don’t overstuff parcels: Individual portion sizes cook better.
  • Tightly fold the edges of paper parcels so steam doesn’t escape.
  • Pan-sear thicker cuts of poultry, meat or fish first so you can get a head start on the cooking.