In this traditional French technique, fish or meat and vegetables are wrapped in individual parchment paper packets and baked. The paper holds in the heat, gently steaming the food in its own juices.
At the table each guest is served a neatly gift-wrapped dinner hot from the oven. As the slightly browned, puffed packages are slit open, steam pours out in a whoosh, filling the air with fragrant aromas as the meal within is revealed.
“It’s a very fun way to cook,” says Phyllis Brock, a Master Food Volunteer in Johnson County. “It looks very pretty and impressive — perfect for a party.”
Actually, parchment paper packets are a hostess’s dream. They can be assembled several hours ahead of time and cook in just a few minutes. And with many recipes, the only cleanup involved is wiping off the cutting board.
She includes six recipes, of which I like the red snapper fillets en papillote and five-spice salmon with leeks. Regina Schrambling has also written about en papillote, for the LA Times in 2004, Scissors, paper, flavor; I can't wait till the weather is warm enough and the fruit in season to try her recipe summer fruit en papillote.