I was a little nervous when starting this week's French Fridays with Dorie dish: Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote (pg 302), because Matt has a long-held aversion to dinners prepared by this method, where the meat is wrapped up in a loose foil packet and baked in the oven. I agree with him that this often produces bland food, but it doesn't bother me as much as it bothers him. This dish was going to have to jump through hoops to impress him.
Fortunately, it did. This is the best thing I've ever cooked en papillote. I don't know how Dorie did it, but she infused the fish with flavor.
First, sear cherry tomatoes in oil, just to get them going. Dorie says that this step is "not necessary but will intensify their flavor." That's like saying, "Feel free not to sear them, but you're food won't be as good as mine." Needless to say, I seared my tomatoes.
The remaining steps are simple. Line a few basil leaves on the center of the foil. Top it with the salmon, drizzle with some oil, add salt and white pepper. Add the tomatoes to the side of the fish, and zest a lemon over everything. Sprinkle sliced scallions on top. Spritz some lemon juice, then make your fish look all pretty with slices of thinly sliced lemon, a basil leaf, and sprig of thyme. Seal 'em up in the foil and bake them on a baking sheet. Easy. To make it even easier, you could also prepare this ahead of time, and then toss it in the oven when you're ready.
Matt, the ultimate en papillote critic, lit up when he took his first bite. His tone implied that he couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth as he said, "It's...it's GOOD!! But how?" Beats me. Magic, I guess.
Conclusion: Liked it. This method basically steams the fish, so, paired with Dorie's timing instructions, this seems like a foolproof way to cook a perfect piece of salmon.