Halibut (or flounder) en Papillote with Vegetables

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Serves 4
Credit: Anne Burrell
Originally from March 2014 on my old blog
Just by announcing the name of this dish to your friends, you’ll sound like some sort of skilled master chef who cooks fancy French dishes. And while this is an unusual, special form of cooking food, it’s actually very simple and straightforward. Just chop up your vegetables, season the fish, stack it up in parchment paper, close it up and toss it in the oven.

Not only does it taste great, and not only does it provide a wow factor for your guests when they rip open the package like a child on Christmas morning, steam rushing out, but it’s also a very healthy way to cook your food. No butter or frying, just some olive oil, steamed in the oven. Steaming is one of the best ways to leave the nutrients in your vegetables while still cooking them; they will keep their vibrant color and crisp texture.

Note: while this recipe calls for halibut, when I went to the grocery store, they were selling halibut for 25 bucks a pound! I wasn’t willing to pay that, so I bought flounder fillets instead, and it turned out great.

Ingredients:
~2 zucchini, julienned (green outside part only; if the stick is completely the white inside, don’t use it)
~¼ pound green beans or haricots verts, sliced on the bias
~2 plum tomatoes, seeded, guts removed, and julienned
~1 clove garlic, smashes and finely chopped
~½ red onion, thinly sliced
~Pinch of crushed red pepper
~extra virgin olive oil
~1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
~kosher salt
~1 lemon, sliced
~4 6-ounce halibut (or flounder) fillets
~½ cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 500 F.

Cut 4 12×15 inch rectangles of parchment paper and fold each in half horizontally. Starting at the top of the fold, cut each piece into a large half heart shape (like you would a Valentine’s day card, so that when you unfold it, it’s a full heart). Try to cut as close tot he paper’s edges as possible; you want the heart to be as big as it can be. It’s totally okay if they’re not perfect.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, onion, garlic, green beans, tomatoes, and red pepper. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and thyme. Oil the fish as well. Remember, this is your only time to season the fish before it’s cooked, so don’t be afraid to go at it!

Open the parchment paper hearts and brush the paper with olive oil, leaving a 1-inch border. Divide the seasoned vegetables evenly between the hearts (of course, only putting the vegetables on one side), then lay 1 fillet of fish on top, and place 2 slices of lemon on top of the fish. Close the paper in half over the fish. Working from one end of the parchment to the other, fold the bottom of the paper over the top to create a closure (just fold and bend and roll up the paper until it’s sealed. It doesn’t have to be pretty). The seal needs to be really secure so that steam won’t escape during the cooking process. Right before you finish the closure on the packages, carefully pour in an even amount of the white wine into each of the packets.

Put the packages on a baking sheets and cook in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the packages from the oven and place on a serving dish. Give each dinner the chance to slice open their own package and smell the steam that will come floating out.

Happy dining!!

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