Papillote Perfection

Thirty-minute meals that don't suck

Want to create your own easy one-bag meal? Here are some guidelines for building the perfect pouch.

  • Choose a lean, tender protein, such as fish; shellfish; boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs; or tofu.
  • Add flavorful accompaniments, such as ginger, garlic, fresh herbs, chopped lemongrass, citrus slices or zest, or sliced chiles.
  • Add a splash of liquid. Try wine, fish or meat stock, soy sauce, mirin, sherry or a combination.

The cooking time will vary according to what is in your packet, but it generally takes the same amount of time to cook something en papillote as it does to roast it, and at the same temperature.

Here are a few combinations we like. Start folding!

Chicken: Surround a thin boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlet with julienned fresh ginger and scallions, add a splash of chicken stock and season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of sesame oil. Seal and bake.

Halibut: Season a halibut filet with salt and pepper. Boil linguine or spaghetti until it is slightly underdone. Drain, then add a nest of pasta to the packet and top with the halibut. Garnish with chopped capers, black olives, chopped tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil; add some slivered garlic. Seal and bake. Just before serving, shower with fresh basil.

Vegetables and Tofu: Stir together coconut milk and prepared red curry paste; season with a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of fish sauce (use salt if you want to keep it vegetarian). Place a combination of seasonal vegetables in the packet, then spoon the coconut milk over. Seal and bake.