Monday, January 13, 2014

Grouper En Papillote with Fennel, Lemon, and Thyme

I am not going to lie, sometimes after a long day of work and other responsibilities I am so tempted to just pour myself a big bowl of cereal for dinner and just call it a day. However, healthy and elegant looking food is possible and can sometimes take just as long to get into the oven as it takes to pick out which cereal you want for dinner. 

This fish dish looks beautiful and can easily be done for one person or 10. It's also great because it has built in portion control as all the food is to be eaten is in its own individual pouch. The cooking method is called "En Papillote" French for "in parchment," where the food is baked in a folded parchment pouch. Don't let the French scare you as this method is super easy. You can use parchment paper or even a clean brown paper bag. The parcel holds in the moisture and steams the food. This method of cooking can be used for fish, vegetable, lamb or poultry. 

Like I said earlier, cooking in parchment has many benefits; it makes for a beautiful presentation when the parchment is cut open at the table, easy to make single servings, it's basically foolproof, and clean up is a breeze.

For this "En Papillote," I used grouper and fennel with lemon and thyme. Grouper is very mild, firm flesh, white fish and is extremely versatile. Fennel and citrus are a great combination and thyme has a woodsy bright flavor that works beautifully with lemon. 

So save the cereal for breakfast and sit down for a beautiful and healthy dinner tonight. 

4 Grouper Fillets (6 oz. each skin off) 
1 Fennel Bulb 
1-2 Lemons 
12 Sprigs of Thyme 
1/4 cup White Wine 
1.5 Tbs Olive Oil
4 Sheets of Parchment Paper

Preheat oven to 205°C/400°F

Thinly slice fennel and divide into 4 portions, reserving the fronds for garnish. 

Scrub the lemons and thinly slice into 16 pieces. 
Take one sheet of parchment, fold in half and cut into a half-heart shape. 
Open the paper heart and place a mound of fennel 2 inches from the fold. 
Top with one grouper fillet. 
Drizzle each fillet with 1 tablespoon white wine and 1 teaspoon olive oil. 
Season with salt and pepper. 
Place 3 sprigs of thyme and 4 slices of lemon on each fillet. 
Close the paper heart. 
Starting at the top of the half heart, make overlaying quarter inch folds. Make sure to press as you crimp and to seal the parchment packet well, otherwise the steam will escape. 
Place the parchment packets on a baking sheet.
Bake 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets. 
To serve place each packet on a plate and cut open at the table to release the beautiful aroma and for a gorgeous presentation. Top with reserved fennel fronds. 


  1. Looks healthy but delicious! Can't wait to try it!

  2. Looks so good, definitely going to try this!