Healthy Cooking Method: Parchment Packet Cooking

This easy cooking method doesn't use a lot of fat to flavor food, plus everything's made in one packet so there's very little cleanup required. Learn how to cook in parchment.
Next Food Network Star Season 8, Episode 9

Next Food Network Star Season 8, Episode 9

Team Alton's Contestant MArtie Duncan's "Fish in Parchment with Citrus Reduction" dish for the Star Challenge "Demo" as seen on Food Network's Star, Season 8.

Photo by: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Edward Chen/Creel Films, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

In France they call it "en papillote". In Italy, it’s "al cartoccio". In America, we call it parchment cooking. What does it mean? Very simply, it's a cooking technique that involves wrapping food, typically fish, chicken and/or vegetables in parchment paper. Once wrapped like an envelope, the "packet" is baked in the oven until the entire meal is moist, tender and cooked to perfection.

The technique may sound fancy in other languages, but it's actually quite simple. Even better? It's probably the least messy cooking method because it doesn't involve any pots or pans. Nutritionally speaking, because all ingredients are assembled in a packet, very little (if any) fat is needed, making it a fantastic cooking technique for the Healthy Eats crowd.

Here's how to do it:

1. Fold a 20-inch long piece of parchment paper in half crosswise.

2. Draw a heart shape on one side of the paper, as if you were making a valentine. Cut out the heart and open the paper, making a complete heart.

3. Arrange desired ingredients on one side of the heart, close to the crease in the middle, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.

4. Pull up the un-topped side of the heart and fold it over so the edges meet the other side. Starting at the top of the heart, fold the two sides together by making several, small and tight folds, sealing the packet completely. Tuck the last fold under the packet to secure the folds.

5. Transfer the packet to a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp-tender, typically 15 for fish and 25 minutes for chicken (about 4 ounces each).

Use the Technique to Make these Healthy Recipes:

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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