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Meal in a Bag

September 10, 2009
on a pallet of delicious vegetables

on a pallet of delicious vegetables

So I’ve been wanting to try out this recipe for a while now, and when someone from the paper called me and said he wanted to do a story on me it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Today we’ll be looking at a method of cooking older than most food itself. This is a French method that is so fast and easy I’ll probably never cook another meal without it. It’s called “en papillote,” which means “in parchment.”

When you cook anything en papillote, the parchment really seals in not only the moisture but also the flavors. The reason parchment cooking works well for so many different types of food is because the parchment seals in all of the steam and basically steams the food. We’ll take a closer look at this devastatingly simple way of preparing wonderful food that will wow your friends and family.

A simple rule of thumb when cooking in a pouch is to stick to things you would normally steam. Poultry and fish work great, but red meat doesn’t come out as well. I used very specific things in my recipe, but that doesn’t mean you have to use the same things I did. I would actually prefer that you make your own way. There aren’t a lot of rules with pouch cooking. For me it was a lot of experimentation, but if you really want you can follow this recipe, or find numerous others on the Internet.

The pouch is obviously the most important part of this recipe, so spend some time thinking about what you’re going to use to make it. Parchment paper is what I would recommend, but it’s not always just laying around everyone’s dorm room. A close runner up would be aluminum foil, which works really well if you’re just gonna throw the pouch on a campfire, but never ever microwave aluminum. If you’re in a fix, anything from a ziplock to a  brown paper bag will work. I used a pre-made oven bag specifically made for this type of cooking. Make sure to cut a small hole in the pouch to allow the steam to escape, or it will blow up like a ballon and you’ll just have a big mess.

This is what I used:

  • 1.3 lb Salmon
  • 12 crushed saltines
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 15 asparagus stalks
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 c orange juice

All you’re gonna need on the other end is:

  • Something to make a pouch out of
  • Microwave/oven

Before you do anything, give the fish a generous helping of salt and lemon juice. This will help bring out the flavor of the fish.

we made a tower of vegetables on top of crushed cracker

we made a tower of vegetables on top of crushed cracker

Now you take the rest of your ingredients and begin stacking them. The hardest part about this dish is assembly. You want the dry ingredients on the bottom and the wet ingredients on top. Make a similar stack and just put the fish right on top. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt.

Cut the butter into little slices and lay them right on top of the fish.

Drizzle the entire thing liberally with orange juice. This is what we’re using to cook the fish. Normal recipes will call for wine or something else you can’t have on a dry campus.

After that just microwave that sucker for 11 minutes. The baking time is going to change drastically depending on the size of the dish prepared. With an easily 2-pound meal, 11 minutes was a surprisingly speedy bake time.

This recipe feeds 2, maybe more if there are girls present.

There you have it! A speedy meal that will impress anyone (especially if you make it in a dorm room). If you try it out, post your own creations. I want to know what worked well!

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