Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Parchment Solution

If you're cooking a meal for vegetarians and omnis alike, sure, you can bust out 4 or 5 pots--one for the grains, one for the veggies, one for the meat, another for mixing everything together . Or you can just cook up a pot of quick-cooking grains, like quinoa or pasta, steam or quickly stir-fry some veggies in the same pot the grains were in. And while the grains and veggies are cooking, you can throw some marinade and seasonings on a piece or few of fish, wrap the mix in some parchment paper and pop it into an oven where it will steam and cook in 10 minutes or so. The French call it cooking en papillote. With this method, you've used just one pot, you can buy parchment paper made of recycled material so you don't feel bad about tossing it, and the meat and veggies never have to touch. Here are some more specific tips on utilizing the en papillote method:

  • This method works best on tender foods that cook quickly: thin chicken breast instead of a chicken thigh and flaky salmon instead of meaty fish steaks. Additionally, be sure to combine foods that will cook at relatively the same rate. So don't add hunks of potatoes, which take a long time to cook, with a fish that only takes 10 minutes.
  • Although you can substitute aluminum foil for the parchment paper, don't use wax paper. It tears easily and will eventually burn. Parchment paper is safe in oven temperatures of up to 450 degrees.
  • Another word about aluminum foil: use parchment when steaming foods seasoned with highly acidic or salty rubs, like vinegar, since these seasonings can create an untasty chemical reaction with the aluminum.
  • Add a bit of moisture, such as water, wine, or broth to create steam or add veggies with a high moisture content, such as spinach or tomatoes.

Tips adapted from April 2007 issue of Cooking Light.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Guess we won't get a chance to try this ourselves this weekend...but soon...very soon.

I'm hungry. Can you tell?