Although it sounds fancy, cooking en papier, or en papillote, is dead simple. As the name suggests, it’s wrapping quality ingredients, here fresh perch fillets, in parchment paper and steaming them in a hot oven. Generally, the technique is used for fish or vegetables, but it would also work with upland game.
This particular recipe for perch en papier is courtesy of Jonathon Sawyer, an Ohio native and a 2015 James Beard Foundation Award winner for best chef in the Great Lakes region. Not only does Sawyer hold down the fort at his award-winning Cleveland establishments the Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat, but he is also a serious outdoorsman who enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, and foraging. Though the recipe calls for perch, you could certainly substitute it with just about any firm, white-fleshed fish. It would be particularly good with walleye, northern pike or even halibut. If you’d like to try Sawyer’s original, it can often be found on the menu at his other Cleveland restaurant Trentina.
Perch en Papier
Yellow Perch Fillets
2 oz. hen of the woods or other wild mushrooms
1 bottle Chardonnay
2 globe artichokes, peeled
6 new potatoes, peeled
1 tbs. lemon thyme
4 tbs. cultured butter
2 Meyer lemons, sliced
2 squares parchment paper
1. In a pot over medium heat, combine ½ gallon of water, 2 tablespoons of sea salt and ¾ bottle of chardonnay. Bring the liquid to a low simmer.
In turn, poach the artichokes, mushroom and potatoes in the simmering liquid until they are cooked through. Cool in the refrigerator and slice into 1-inch thick pieces. Season the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and salt.
To assemble the en papier, lay out a large square of parchment paper. Layer the ingredients by placing a couple slices of potato and mushroom on the parchments, followed by a couple of perch fillets, artichoke slices and Meyer lemons. Top with a pat of butter and 2 ounces of poaching liquid. Fold the edges of the parchment together and seal.
Bake the fish in the oven until just cooked through, approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two before opening, being careful to avoid the hot steam. Sprinkle olive oil, Meyer lemon zest and sea salt over before enjoying.