"Only a few ingredients are required for this “dinner in a bag”- a protein, a vegetable, and some salt and pepper."
There is something dramatic and fun about recipes prepared “en papillote” (in parchment). Your protein and vegetables are cooked all together in a pouch, and while baking, the steam builds up in the pouch. When you are at the dining room table opening up your dinner, the steam pours out adding to the dramatic effect. My first attempt at cooking en papillote was when I was camping, and I was instantly pleased by how easy meals prepared this way are to put together, how tasty they are, and how virtually no cleanup is required!
While having no dishes is a huge perk to cooking en papillote, in culinary school I learned why this cooking method has maintained its relevance for restaurants and home cooks alike. When food is cooked in greaseproof paper, it cooks in its own juices providing more flavor! Ingredients will cook quickly because they are surrounded by moist heat, and little fat is required, which is a huge health benefit!
Only a few ingredients are required for this “dinner in a bag”- a protein, a vegetable, and some salt and pepper. I decided to use salmon for this recipe and pair it with fennel and cherry tomatoes. To give an extra boost of flavor, I decided to add a slice of compound butter into the parcel before baking.
Compound butter is softened butter whipped with any savory or sweet ingredients you like. The options are endless! Today I’m sharing a version with kalamata olives, capers, and lemon zest. I love the brightness and saltiness of these ingredients paired with the subtle sweetness of the salmon. You combine the ingredients then roll tightly into a piece of pre-cut Perfect Parchment and place in the fridge or freezer. A nice slice of compound butter is great on roasted vegetables, grilled meats or fish, bread, even in sweet applications like pancakes, scones, or waffles. And you can make it weeks (even months!) in advance. Here are some of my other favorite compound butter flavors:
- Curry Powder, Lime Zest, Cilantro
- Smoked Paprika, Rosemary, Salt
- Basil, Sundried Tomato, Garlic
- Horseradish and Chives
- Maple Syrup and Cinnamon
Give this recipe a try, and experiment with different proteins and vegetables cooked “en papillote” and pair them with different compound butters!
Salmon en Papillote with Kalamata Compound Butter
Chef Jordan Weber
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, chives, or parsley, or a combination)
Salt to taste
2 (6-8 oz.) salmon fillets, skin off
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 fennel bulb, sliced or diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kalamata Compound Butter
Fresh lemon slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the compound butter
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the butter is smooth and “whipped”. Fold in the remaining ingredients with a rubber spatula.
Place the butter in the center of a sheet of The Smart Baker Perfect Parchment (size 9x13).
Roll the butter into a log and twist the ends to seal well.
Place the log in the fridge (or in the freezer if you’re in a time crunch!) to firm up.
For the salmon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
In a medium bowl, combine the halved cherry tomatoes, fennel, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt to taste, and freshly ground black pepper.
Lay out two sheets vertically of The Smart Baker Perfect Parchment (size 9x13). Fold the parchment in half to create a crease, then unfold. On one half of each of the parchment sheets, divide the tomato/fennel mixture equally.
Place a salmon fillet on each “base” of tomato and fennel.
Remove the compound butter from the fridge and slice two pieces from the log (about ¼ inch in thickness). Place one round on top of each salmon fillet.
Place a lemon slice on top of each salmon fillet as well.
Fold the parchment over the salmon. Starting at one corner, tightly crimp the edges of the paper to seal it tightly.
Place the pouches on a sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Artichoke hearts, potatoes, or orzo, for serving, optional