While many Italians in Gloucester prepare the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, we opt to feature one fish, perfectly packaged in parchment paper. Cooking en papillote is a French baking technique that allows the fish to steam in its own flavorful liquids and meld with the other ingredients. The dramatic presentation is equally as impressive as the infusion of flavors. Each packaged gift is just waiting to be opened. After eagerly cutting into the crisp parchment, you are overcome by the interior’s wafting aroma and intricate medley of colors and flavors.
Cod en Papillote with Artichokes, Asparagus, Button Mushrooms and Thyme
1 T EVOO
1 c sliced marinated artichoke hearts
2 c asparagus, sliced in 1-inch biases
2 c thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 whole springs
3/4 c white wine (whatever you’re drinking!)
6 pats unsalted butter
6 thinly sliced lemon rounds
salt and pepper throughout
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a bowl, mix together the EVOO, artichoke hearts, asparagus, mushrooms, onion, garlic, lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper. Cut 6 12-inch x 12-inch parchment squares. Evenly distribute the marinated vegetables in small piles on the top half of each parchment square. Place a cod fillet atop the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Top the seasoned cod with 2 T of wine, 1 pat of butter, 1 lemon slice, and 1 sprig of thyme.
Fold the parchment paper in half, encasing the fish filet. Crimp the edges tightly by making 1/4-inch folds to create a half moon shape around the fish. Arrange the parcels on a baking sheet. Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes. To serve, cut open the packets with a knife and place directly on a plate. Serves 6.
Upon cutting into the crispy envelope, the juices may seep out, so we suggest serving thick slices of crusty bread, a saffron risotto, or another complementary starch alongside to sop up the steaming liquid.