My mom can't figure out why I love to cook and have dinner parties, because her dream house comes without a kitchen! The fact is, I do love to have people over and conversation is always fun and lively when food and drink is involved.An important rule that I've made for myself is that most of the dishes need to be able to be prepared somewhat ahead of time so that when the guests arrive, I can enjoy their company without focusing too much on the cooking.
This meal is almost perfect...Of course, there will always be last minute things to do when you are serving a meal to anyone, but this is an entire meal in a smart parchment paper packet. The French call it "en papillote"... I call it amazing. The concept is that the food is sealed inside the paper (you can also use foil) and it steams to cook. This can be a low-fat and tasty way to prepare your food. This recipe does include butter to give just that little extra silkiness to the sauce.
There are a few Gr8 things about this meal. The first is that the parchment packets make a beautiful presentation when served to your guests. Also, you can use almost any vegetable/herb combination you like and use any liquid. Be Cre-8-ive!
Fish Dinner for Eight
- 8 new potatoes,, sliced ¼" thick; or 32 "Peewee Potatoes" cut in half
- 16 cherry tomatoes,, halved
- ½ pound haricots verts or thin green beans
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes,, depending on your tolerance for hot
- 2 pounds sea bass cut into 4-ounce fillets,, you can also use halibut, sole, or any flaky white fish, about ¾" thick
- 16 thyme sprigs
- ½ cup dry white wine,, divided
- 4 teaspoons butter,, divided, if desired
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- Cut 8 parchment paper hearts. (Check out this video.)
- In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, tomatoes, haricots verts and the parsley.
- Peel the garlic and, using a garlic press, press the garlic cloves into the vegetable mixture. Or, peel and smash the cloves well with the side of a butcher knife. (careful!)
- Add the olive oil and mix until all the vegetables are coated.
- Sprinkle in the salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes and mix well.
- Lay a piece of fish onto one of the paper hearts just next to the center crease.
- Arrange one-eighth of the vegetables around and on top of the fillet.
- Lay 2 sprigs of thyme on top of the fish, then sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of wine over the mixture.
- Top with ½ teaspoon of butter.
- Seal the parchment packet.
- Repeat with all eight pieces of fish.
- Lay the packets side by side onto two large baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the packets from the oven and put each pack onto a plate.
- Give each guest a sharp knife (like a steak knife) to cut into the parchment. Or you can go around with a pair of scissors and open each packet. CAUTION! The steam will be hot, so make sure everyone uses care when opening their pack.
- Et Voilà! Dinner for 8!