Of all the cooking techniques I've been exposed to, none has more intimidated and bewildered me than cooking in paper. I know it can be done, but I have trouble getting past images of a fire in my oven. Fortunately, Jerry was able to give me some tips in this style of cooking.
The most obvious thing is the paper itself. The genuine article is cooking parchment paper, and believe it or not, Reynolds Wrap sells it on-line for $4.29 for 30 square feet. The next obvious thing is that you want to grease it up with butter, shortening, or spray Pam.
Cooking en papillote is actually a steaming technique. The ingredients are placed off the middle of a circle of paper, which is folded over. The trick then is to tightly fold and crimp the edges. The packets are placed on a cookie sheet and baked in a moderate 400 degree oven for a relatively short period of time. The entire packet is presented at the table, leaving absolutely nothing to clean up. The climax of service comes when you cut open the packet and a cloud of aromatic steam rises up. This recipe that Jerry sent along sums up the approach.
Salmon and Vegetables en Papillotte
1 cup julienned fennel bulb
1 cup julienned leeks, white part only
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup peas
2 cups baby spinach
salt, pepper, ground coriander
4 8 ounce salmon fillets, pin bones removed
1 lemon cut into wedges
4 tbs dry white wine
1. Take a 15" x 36" sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half like a book. Draw half of a heart on the paper with the fold falling in the middle of the heart. Cut out the heart shape and open it.
2. Lay the vegetables on the parchment, on one side of the fold. Season with the salt mixture, and lay the salmon fillets on top of the vegetables, and season them as well. Top with the lemon wedges and sprinkle the white wine over everything. Fold the empty half of the heart over and begin crimping it along the edges. Twist the tip of the heart several times to get a firm closure.
3. Place on a microwave safe plate, and cook in a microwave oven for about 4 minutes on high. Open parchment carefully and serve.