Today, let’s look at a cooking technique that sounds a bit intimidating but really is quite easy – cooking en papillote (in a bag). This easy cooking method lends itself well to warm weather cooking and the season’s abundance of fresh vegetables.

Cooking en Papillote – it’s really easy!

En papillote (pah pee YOHT) is a French cooking technique where delicate food, usually seafood or chicken with vegetables, is enclosed in a wrapper of greased parchment paper or foil and then baked. It is used for easy one-dish meals.

As the food bakes and lets off steam, the parchment puffs up; for serving, the paper is slit and peeled back so the diner can enjoy the escaping aroma.

A few tips

Cut a piece of parchment paper that’s twice as long as it is wide; coat with cooking spray or brush with melted butter. Place the food and seasonings on one half of the paper, and fold the wrapper over to cover the food. With a series of small double folds, seal all the way around the outer edge of the paper, then place on a baking sheet and bake as usual.

Try chicken or turkey breast cutlets or seafood with any combination of quick cooking vegetables (some to try: snow peas, onion slivers, zucchini or summer squash wedges, celery or carrot matchsticks, bell pepper slices, mushrooms).

Parchment paper can usually be found near the foil and wraps in your grocery store. There are even parchment bags available now that eliminate the need for wrapping. Just place the food in the bag, fold over the end and bake.

A good substitute is aluminum foil. Do not use waxed paper.

Some extra benefits: This technique requires little or no added fat and clean up is a breeze.

Karen Tempel, an aspiring chef since she could reach the countertops, has been delighting friends and family with tempting treats for most of her life. She is the owner of Everyday Gourmet, a custom caterer in the Aiken area. Visit her website at or email her at