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October 4, 2011

Cooking in parchment pouches

En papillote is a popular French method of cooking in which the main ingredient, in this case fish, is put into a pouch, or parcel, sealed and then baked in an oven.

The traditional "papillote," meaning parchment in French, is typically made from parchment paper. In this cooking method the water, wine or stock in the packet steams the food. If you use aluminum foil, you can cook the packet on the grill.

Cooking en papillote is considered healthy and flavorful depending on the ingredients you put into the packet. Typically many people use some aromatic herbs, a small amount of wine and a smaller amount of oil or butter.

In this version the chefs at Addison Gilbert and Beverly hospitals sauté a medley of leeks, fennel and carrot in a chicken broth and soy sauce mixture, sprinkle with chives and lemon juice, and then add the mixture to the fish in the parchment bag before placing into the oven. The delicate flavor of chives works well with fish.

This is an excellent dish for entertaining; you can prepare single papillotes ahead of time, store them in the refrigerator, and then pop the packets in the oven at the last minute. It is recommended that you do this if you are making them for three or more people. You can serve them unopened, letting each of your guests inhale the steam and aroma escaping as the papillote bag is opened.

If you like, you can substitute fillets of salmon, bass, striped bass or mullet for the haddock.

Haddock En Papillote


6 6-ounce fillets of haddock

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

21/2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 large)

21/2 cups fennel bulb (about 2 small bulbs)

21/2 cups (2-inch) julienne-cut carrot

1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

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