Halibut a la Provencal

Earlier this summer, I was excited to be featured in an article about Davidson College alumni making careers in the food industry for my school’s alumni magazine: the Davidson Journal.   As part of the article, titled “Main Courses,” they asked me to share a recipe that I thought alumni might enjoy.

I wanted to pick a recipe that was approachable, but also taught a technique that could easily be applied to other meals.  My two most frequent requests from clients seeking private cooking lessons is that they want to learn how  to cook fish and that they want to cook healthy, yet still delicious, food.  This recipe for Halibut a la Provencal is perfect on both counts.

While the technique is used for things besides fish (check out my recipe for chicken en papillote), seafood cookery is where it really shines.   For those of you, whose palms start sweating at the mere thought of cooking a fish…fear not. En papillote is a great way to gain confidence when it comes to fish cookery.   The hardest part is cutting and folding the parchment paper to form the packet.  I show how to do just that in the video above and I promise that after your first one, you’ll have the technique mastered.   From there, try out this recipe for maple-soy salmon.  After that, it’s just a matter of letting your imagination run wild as the variations are endless, while the technique, happily, stays exactly the same.     Happy cooking!

Halibut Provencal en Papillote – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 2

2 (6-ounce) halibut fillets, skin removed
1 large Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
10 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 thyme sprigs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine
Special equipment: parchment paper, scissors

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a rack in the top third of the oven.

Cut out two large rectangles of parchment paper (about 15 x 18-inches) and fold them in half.  Starting from the fold, trace the outline of half a heart with a pen (like you made a Valentine in school) on each folded piece of paper and then cut out the heart.

Unfold the hearts and place one halibut fillet on the right side of each parchment paper heart (see picture).

Top each fillet with half the diced tomatoes, half the sliced onions, half the minced garlic, and half the kalamata olives.  Place a thyme sprig on each fillet and then drizzle each fillet with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and ½ tablespoon of white wine.

Fold one of the parchment paper hearts in half.  Starting at the top, begin folding the edges down to seal the heart.  Make sure each fold overlaps the next by folding the next edge over the previous one and creasing it firmly.  Continue moving along the outside of the heart until you have formed a package.  Place the package on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining packages.

Bake the parchment paper packages on a baking sheet in the top third of the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Serve the fish in the parchment paper packet and have your guests cut it open at the table.  Or, cut open the envelope in the kitchen and slide the fillet and its toppings onto a plate. Enjoy!



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