As with any great meal, there is an inspiration. In this case, the inspiration is my beautiful wife. I wanted to make a very special dinner for her birthday. On one prior occasion during a class at L'Academie de Cuisine, I made fish baked in paper, also known as Poisson en Papillote in France and Pesce en Cartoccio in Italy. This is a very healthy way to eat dinner. The fish is enclosed in parchment paper with whatever vegetables you wish to add along with some olive oil and wine. The fish proceeds to steam in the bag (or bake depending on how well you seal the bag). Either way, the final product is very delicious.
So, I found a few recipes to use as guides and decided to make my own version of Poisson en Papillote. The only limitation was the parchment paper, which ended up being a little on the small side. Still, I was able to lay a foundation of thinly sliced potatoes, salted and peppered with a little dry thyme, that served as the base for the fish. I then put carrots, green peppers and red onions, with a little garlic on top. After almost sealing the pouch, I added a little white wine from the Loire Valley. I closed the pouch and stuck it in the oven.
POISSON EN PAPILLOTE
Between 3/4 to 4/5 of pound of fish, such as Halibut
1 medium sized carrot, julienned
1/2 medium red onion, julienned
3/4 green pepper, julienned
2 red potatoes, very thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/4 cup of dry white wine
Salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Olive oil for drizzling and basting
1. Prepare the packets. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Prepare two sheets of parchment paper. Place the potatoes in two rows about the length and width of the fish on each piece of paper. Salt and pepper the potatoes liberally. Sprinkle the dried thyme over the potatoes and drizzle a little olive oil over the potatoes.
Place the fish on top of the potatoes. Salt and pepper the fish. Then place the vegetables (red onion, carrot and green pepper) on top of the fish. (Don't worry if you don't use all of the vegetables, just saute the extras and you have an instant side dish.)
Begin sealing each side of the pouch by folding over the parchment and crimp the edges. When you get to the middle, lift the pouch and pour half of the wine in each pouch. Seal the pouches and spread a little olive oil over the tops of the pouches with a brush.
2. Bake the fish. Bake the fish in the oven for about twenty five minutes.
3. Plate the dish. Remove the fish from the oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then split the paper open carefully, because the steam will escape as you cut through the paper. Serve immediately.