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Monday, September 27, 2010

Red Snapper en Papillote

Photo Source:  Google Images

As October approaches, it is one of the best fishing seasons of the year.  The weather is gorgeous, the Red fish are running, and speckled trout are plentiful.  October is also Red Snapper season.  Yum, yum!  Who could ask for anything more?  One of our favorite seafood dishes is derived from an Emeril Lagasse recipe and adjusted to our tastes.  The teen-ager "created" this particular recipe and I act as his Sous Chef on the evenings we make it.  He does enjoy telling me what to do!  One of our first efforts in 2008 is shown here, with freshly caught trout from the Laguna Madre, although we have tweaked it a bit since that time.  I've made it with jumbo Gulf Shrimp, I've made it with bay trout numerous times, and most recently, it's been Red Snapper.  If you want to impress your guests...this is a sure thing!
Bay Trout en Papillote ala Ian

Red Snapper en Papillote

  • Whole Wheat Orzo (available at HEB in Port Isabel)

  • Chicken Stock                                   

  • White Fish (Red Snapper, Trout, Tilapia all work well) OR Jumbo Shrimp (just reduce cooking time to 15 minutes for shrimp)

  • Olive Oil for drizzling

  • Butter – 2 TBSP for orzo and 1 Tsp per piece of fish

  • Basil – about 3/4 cup, rolled and thinly chiffonade - do not use dried basil

  • Fresh Thyme if you have it – sometimes I can’t find it down here and do without

  • Green Onions – thinly sliced white and green sections – about 2 per serving (or thinly sliced shallots are a great substitute)

  • 1 large clove garlic for 4 servings– extremely finely chopped

  • Lemon Pepper to taste                                               

  • Lemon Slices – 3 per piece of fish – thinly sliced – seeds removed

  • Lemon halves to squeeze over fish

  • Crisp white wine (like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc) - use what you need and drink the rest!

  • Parchment paper - one 18-20" sheet per serving to form individual packets

  • Baking sheets with edges  - half sheet pans - cookie sheets.
Prepare orzo in chicken stock instead of water per package directions – slightly undercook.
While orzo is cooking - prep all of the rest of your items so you can put the packets together without stress ;-)
Drain partially-cooked orzo and return to pan, toss with 2 TBSP butter, a pinch of salt, a handful of the chopped green onion, and some of the basil – set aside. 
Prepare packets by folding a large piece of parchment paper in half.  Lay it on the baking sheet so one side is down as a base, and the other side is a “top”.  Place a cup of prepared orzo inside the bottom half – close to the fold and place the fish in the center, on top of the orzo.  Season fish with lemon pepper and salt if desired.  Sprinkle with basil, a tiny sprinkle of garlic, green onions, and a bit of chopped fresh thyme if you have it… and top with lemon slices.  Squeeze lemon juice over it all (to taste).  Put pinched bits of butter all over and drizzle with Olive oil – sprinkle about a half tablespoon of wine over it all.  Fold the top (the cover) of parchment paper down so the sides meet.  Tuck the corners in at the fold, and starting at one of the folded sides, roll the parchment into a packet…working around to the other side, gathering and crimping as you go.  Roll it tightly, to the edge of the orzo.  Repeat for each packet – each cookie sheet will hold 2 packets, maybe 3.  If you can't get it to hold together - you can secure it by threading a toothpick to the end where the roll ends.  I've only had one packet leak...they hold together better than you imagine.
Photo Source:  Google Images

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so depending on size and thickness of fish.   Place each packet directly on individual serving plates and open at the table.  With a sharp knife, carefully slice a steam vent in the center of the packet.  Cut the rest of the way across once steam is released and tear open the packet.  Eat directly from the packet on top of a dinner plate.
You can do the same process without the parchment packets by using a large chef’s skillet on the stovetop – put down a bed of partially cooked orzo, place the fish pieces on top, proceed as directed above, put the lid on the pan and cook on a medium low temperature until fish is done.  Will need a very large “fish spatula” to lift the servings onto serving plates, gathering up the orzo under the fish, and spoon the rest of the orzo onto the plate next to the fish servings.
We generally serve with a simple steamed vegetable, like broccoli, and a crusty loaf of hot bread.  Woo wee, them are some good eats!!!
Bon appetit y'all!

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