Saffron Scented Lobster, Sweet Potato and Green Beans, Baked En Papillote

Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”.

Several years ago, baking in parchment became one of my favorite cooking methods, still it was good having the opportunity to expand upon it..  I wanted to try some new takes on the fabulous En Papillote.  For instance, I realized from the given recipes that various oven temperatures and cooking times were possible.  Previously I'd just stuck to a basic formula, with variations only in the ingredients, herbs, etc., on the theory that if it works, don't mess with it.

Fish seems to lend itself perfectly to this method of cooking.   So, for my first reprise it was salmon with sweet potato slices in a dressing of seasoned olive oil, paired with blanched kale, salted lemon and a few pats of butter.  I used fresh ginger in the sweet potato dressing, but those garlic chives got eliminated.

There is an element of fun in opening your mystery (to anyone else at the table) packet, aromatic steam puffing out, and dinner revealed.  They had just the right amount of moisture from the blanched kale, butter and sweet potato marinade.  Scoop it off the paper onto your plates and enjoy.

The next take involved a pair of overpriced lobster tails, saffron (they deserve each other), sweet potato again, just because it was so good, green beans and butter.  I sprinkled those garlic chives and blossoms on top after we opened the packets.

First cut out your 12x17" rectangles, then make a heart out of them by folding in half and cutting.  Now get all your ingredients ready.

I tossed the raw veggies separately in a mixture of melted butter, saffron, salt and pepper, then put the potatoes on the bottom, followed by green beans, and lobster tail, topping it all off with slivers of salted lemon and pats of butter.

You just make a nice little stack on one half of the heart.  Pretend you're a fancy chef plating up your creation.

And, remember the butter is good for you.  Everyone needs some healthy fat in their diet, to make sure all those fat soluble vitamins get utilized.

Now fold the other side over so the edges meet, make a seam, turning up a 1/2 inch or so to close the opening, then crimp little pleats to secure the edges.  Before closing off the top I added a tablespoon of white wine into each of my packets.  Bake at 400F for 15 minutes.  Let the packets sit for a few minutes before opening.

Just fabulous, decadent and so delicious with the saffron, butter and lemon scented lobster, the sweet potatoes and green beans done to perfection and then sprinkled with chopped chives.  Make yourself some and enjoy!

I still want to make the prosciutto wrapped asparagus, which was one of the recipes provided by our Daring Chefs hostess .  I'll add the directions for it after the break, as it is a bit different, being slow-roasted.  Our markets were out of asparagus, so my trial on that one may have to wait.
Slow Roasted Asparagus

Daring Cooks Challenge 7/12
As found in the New York Times by Melissa Clark, April 21, 2010 “The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook”
Paula Wolfert

The recipe involved baking the asparagus in a parchment-paper packet on very low heat for around 90 minutes. During that time, the herb-scented steam gently softens and suffuses the stalks, unlike asparagus I’ve made in a steamer basket, which tends to cook unevenly.

Why was the parchment-steaming different? I called Ms. Wolfert to ask.

“I haven’t used an asparagus steamer in years,” she said. “Metal steamers get hotter, and that affects the way the asparagus cook.” The parchment insulates the asparagus, she said. It keeps the temperature steady and allows for even cooking. Also, the long, slow cooking time lets the vegetable absorb the flavor of the seasonings.

Prep Time: 1 hour 10 min. (active time: 15 min.)

*Note: No specific quantities are given – as a guide, use 1 bunch asparagus, enough oil to drizzle, ½ tsp. dried tarragon or 1 tsp. fresh tarragon, 3-4 slices prosciutto and a handful of your favorite mushrooms.

• Asparagus
• Olive oil
• Tarragon
• Prosciutto
• Mushrooms


   1. Preheat oven to very slow 200°F/95°C/gas mark 1/8. Wash and trim the asparagus. Lay it on a square of parchment paper large enough to wrap and fold.
   2. Drizzle with olive oil, lay on some dried or fresh tarragon. Drape with prosciutto and roughly chopped mushrooms.

   3. Tightly fold the parchment paper into a bundle so no steam can escape and tie with string. I like using the sandwich fold. Bring the two long edges together and fold over and then continue to fold over until the seam is tight to the package. Turn each short end under and tie with string. You could also just staple all the edges closed to create the seal.
   4. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.


Wolf said...

Lovely, vibrant colors! Looks great!

Gingered Whisk said...

Wow, great job!!! The flavors you chose here are awesome, and it turned out simply beautifully! Great job!

Chef Mireille said...

lobster looks amazing great color - see my attempt en papillote - http://gourmetglobal.blogspot.com/2012/07/thai-salmon-beans-en-papillote.html

Don't Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys! said...

My mouth is watering just looking at your photos! Lobster! Magnificent! What a wonderful take on the challenge and a tasty one I am sure.

My name is Andy. said...

I love the combo of sweet potato and lobster! Was the lobster tail already cooked when you put it in the packet?

Dee said...

Wow, not only is it beautiful but it's all well planned. It looks great!

Claudia said...

Thanks all, and no Andy, the lobster was raw.

vanessalillian [Ness@theteensytinyinsignificantdetails] said...

I've actually never eaten lobster before but that looks amazing - the colour alone is so appetising.

PS - viva la butter! :)

Swathi Iyer said...

I baked in aluminum foil and banana leaves not used parchment paper. Next time I will give a try.
Delicious, all the flavors has infused in it.