June 10th, 2013

Real fast food: Cod en Papillote

OneHungryMama Cod en Papillote

I want to write—there’s a lot to say—but I’m tapped. (Under the weather, too.) I talked all weekend.

To new people.
To a big group.
To old friends.
New ones, too.

It was wonderful, but my throat is hoarse and I’m on empty. I’m happy to be home.

School ends on Friday, then we go camping (camping!!). I’ve got to feel better, stronger to face the summer madness which begins in t-minus 5 days. So here’s my plan:

* Do work, at whatever pace I can manage.
* Rest.
* Pick up fish to make this simple cod en papillote for a family dinner.

I’m in desparate need of a healthy family dinner. (Did I mention that I was in Austin. They sure do love bacon in Austin.) The cupboard is bare but, other than the fish, I have everything else that I need to make this cod en papillote: olive oil, shallots, white wine, tomatoes, lemons, olives, and thyme. Thank god for a well stocked pantry.

If you aren’t familiar with cooking en papillote, it’s a French cooking method that involves baking ingredients in a parchment paper (or aluminum foil) “package.” You layer fish or chicken and/or vegetables with aromatics and herbs, drizzle with olive oil and white wine, if you like, wrap, and cook. Dinner steams, all healthy like, imbued by the whirling flavors of the trapped ingredients which come out impossibly delicate, moist, and with knock out flavor. All this with little added fat, in case you care about that.

This recipe is very forgiving. Don’t get hung up on precise measurements. Swap or add in whatever you have on hand. Use capers instead of olives. Add fennel or leeks. Ditch the wine for fresh lemon juice. It’s that easy. So easy that I can actually make it for dinner tonight so that I can sit around the table with my boys. Recovery plan complete.

Cod en Papillote
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)
serves 4

4 fillets of cod (about 6 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped (you can substitute 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped)
3 tablespoons white wine (optional)
4 plum tomatoes, cut into eights (you can substitute a 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Kalamata olives, to taste
8 sprigs of fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper fish fillets. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and add olive oil; swirl to coat the bottom of the parchment or foil. Sprinkle chopped shallots on oiled parchment or foil and layer fish on top.

2. Pour wine and scatter tomatoes on top of fish. Sprinkle with zest and olives and lay sprigs of thyme across the top of the fillets.

3. Seal the bundle by folding parchment or foil closed over the top, tented so that there is room above the fish. Bake for 25 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Remove sprigs of thyme and carefully transfer fillets to plates, spooning sauce, tomatoes and olives over the top. Serve.

*Note: Puree or flake and chop fish, along with tomatoes and olives, into an age appropriate consistency for little ones.

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