“A papillote should be opened at the table to allow people to smell the aroma when it opens.” –Laurent Gras
Cooking with parchment paper, or “en papillote,” as it is referred to in our Laurent Gras: My Provence is the classic technique of baking ingredients in parchment pouches to lock-in flavor and create delicious, naturally low-fat meals. The technique is used in cultures all over the world and doesn’t always involve parchment paper. In Asia, the South Pacific and the Americas cornhusks, banana leaves and water lotus work equally well to steam traditional dishes from meat and fish to vegetables and rice. No matter the wrapper, this easy to use technique always creates an enjoyable spectacle at the table. As the package is cut, steam is released in an aromatic plume revealing the beautiful and moist preparation inside.
Experimenting with ingredients is limitless with the "en papillote" technique as long as there is a bit of liquid to create the steam. Thinly cut pieces of meat, fish, shellfish or vegetables work best but it’s important to include aromatic ingredients such as ginger, white wine, meat stock, herbs, or garlic to flavor your main ingredient since steaming (although healthy), can often leave foods tasting bland.
In this video for a Pork Chop En Papilliote, chef Laurent Gras demonstrates how to use parchment to cook a thicker-cut of meat. Although not using a traditional parchment pouch or the usual leaner meat such as fish or chicken the result is the same: a steaming flavorful meal that is low in fat and high in taste.
Photo © 2012 Shimon and Tammar Photography.