In this variation of steaming, the main item
and accompanying ingredients are encased in parchment paper and cooked in
a hot oven. The main item rests on a bed of herbs, vegetables or sauce and
the combination of these ingredients and their natural juices serves as
the sauce. The steam created by the food's natural juices cooks the food.
As the steam volume increases , the paper puffs up.
Foods that have been properly prepared en
papillote will demonstrate the same characteristics of flavor, appearance,
and texture as other steamed foods.
Steps to prepare
Assemble all ingredients and preparations
for en papillote -
In addition to the preparation techniques
for steaming, there is an optional first step. Sear thicker meat cuts in
advance to ensure that they will be adequately cooked during the
relatively short cooking times associated with this technique as well as
to provide additional color and flavor.
Vegetables can be included to provide
moisture for steam. They also add color, flavor and texture. Cut the
vegetables into a fine julienne or dice. Sweat or blanch the vegetables,
if necessary, to ensure that they will cook in the same amount of time as
the main item.
Prepare herbs and spices according to type.
Some herbs may be left in sprigs; others are cut into a chiffonade or
minced. Have a prepared sauce, reduced heavy cream, wine or citrus juices
on hand if your recipe calls for them.
Assemble all equipments necessary for cooking
and serving -
Assemble the packages.
The method for cutting the parchment and
making the individual packages is shown below.
(1) Preparing the parchment heart.
(2) Arranging the ingredients on the
(3) Folding, crimping and sealing the
(4) The fully cooked snapper being
Cut the parchment into a heart shape large
enough to allow the food and any additional ingredients to fit comfortably
without over-crowing. The paper needs to have enough space to expand
during cooking. Oil or butter the paper on both sides to prevent it from
Place a bed of aromatics, vegetables or
sauce (if you are using these optional ingredients) on one half of the
heart and top it with the main item. Fold the empty half of the heart over
the main item and fold and crimp the edges of the paper to form a tight
the bag on a preheated sizzler platter and put it in a very hot oven.
The oven temperature may need to be
carefully monitored, since delicate foods such as fish fillets can be
overcooked quickly at a high temperature. A thicker cut may be best if
cooked slowly at a moderate temperature and "puffed" in a very hot oven.
Foods prepared en papillote should be cooked
until they are just done. This is difficult to gauge without experience,
since you cannot apply the senses of sight and touch in determining
doneness. If the item has been cut to the correct size or if it has been
partially cooked before being placed en papillote, it should be done when
the bag is very puffy and the paper is brown.