The French and the Italians have been cooking food in parchment for a very long time. Fish and vegetables wrapped in parchment and then baked are a standby in most French kitchens, and in many French restaurants. While sounding somewhat “high falutin'”, it is actually super easy and a very nice way to cook and eat a bit of healthy food.
en pa·pi·llote – pron. äN ˌpapēˈyōt – adjective & adverb – (of food) cooked and served in a paper wrapper. “fish en papillote”
Mainly a device to gently steam the food within, wrapping food in parchment or even in tin foil is a wonderful way to contain the food, and cook it using moist heat. Most of us have thrown a packet of meat and veggies wrapped in aluminum foil into a campfire…well, that is just a earthy version of “en papillote”.
The Instant Pot, because of its use of intense moist heat, is the PERFECT place to cook foods en papillote.
You can get as fancy as you want with your parchment – writer Katherine Martinelli likes to cut out a heart shaped piece of parchment, and wrap it a certain way. It is just as effective to use a sheet of parchment and fold it easily and well, tucked all around the food as tightly as possible, and pop the little package into an oven or into an Instant Pot.
Serious Eats has a nice tutorial here.
The instructions are easy. Lay out a piece of parchment and, on the half of the paper closest to yourself, place a bed of vegetables on the paper…zucchini, carrots, green beans, onions, etc. are all good choices. Then, lay on that bed a nice filet of salmon or halibut. Season the fish with salt and pepper, a handful of chopped garlic, and a squeeze of lemon. Throw on a handful of fresh herbs, if you have them. Drizzle a little olive oil or a dab of butter over the contents of your packet. Lay a thin slice of lemon or two over the fish, and then bring the top half of the paper over all the food, and starting on one side, carefully fold the paper together and then under the food. You should have a little packet of paper, with the edges tucked under, looking somewhat like a little paper pie.
This packet can now go on the trivet at the bottom of the Instant Pot. Make sure you have put a cup of water at the bottom first. You can even put two packets on top of each other – so one can have fish and veggies and one can have just veggies, or, you can prepare two packets exactly the same to serve to two people for a lovely presentation. If you do put two packets in, you want to add a couple of minutes to the overall time on the cooking cycle.
If you do not have parchment paper, you can use tin foil, and have the exact same outcome, even though it won’t look quite as haute cuisine!