Delicate, flaky seafood may not be the first choice that comes to mind when planning party entrées—too many opportunities for overcooking—but that’s probably because you aren’t thinking of the en papillote (in parchment paper) cooking method. Hear us out. By wrapping light fillets, sweet crabmeat, or tender scallops in packets of parchment paper (along with some seasonings and liquid) and popping them in the oven, the contents steam to moist, perfectly-cooked perfection in minutes. Plus, this method makes a dramatic presentation as guests unwrap their bundles.
In Dorie Greenspan’s latest work of genius, Butter, (bet you can guess what it's about) she uses the parchment paper pouch to quickly infuse butter and lemon into delicate scallops (although this classic flavor pairing works with almost anything that swims). And, because it’s Dorie, there’s a delicious surprise.
“The twist is the lemon,” she says. “It’s salt-preserved, citron confit, a staple in Mediterranean cuisines.”
While some en papillote recipes involve folding the paper around your protein or vegetables, Dorie’s are tied “hobo style,” which make for easier opening when serving.
To make the dish, simply cut a 15-inch square of parchment paper, then place spinach, lemon, butter, scallops, tomatoes, a splash of wine, and butter in the center. Wrap the whole mess up in kitchen twine and pop in a 475°F oven for 8 minutes. Transfer the packets into bowls ready to catch all that buttery-goodness, and the scallops are ready for unwrapping.
- Handful of baby spinach
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and dried
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 16 sea scallops, preferably all a similar size, patted dry
- 16 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 tablespoons dry white wine
What have you served en papillote? Fish? Lobster? Anything that doesn't swim?