Dinner Parcels

About: Hi, I'm Éva from Hungary. I love baking, cooking, and gardening, not to mention the perfect combination: cooking using fruits and veggies from our garden. I often experiment with new ingredients and try to u...

Hello everyone,

Meal prep is certainly a lifesaver during the week. Do you know how much a teenage boy eats? A lot. In my case multiply it by three. That’s 3 times a lot. Somebody is always hungry, usually not just one of them. As I’m working full-time, feeding them can be a real challenge. Over the years I developed techniques that are easy to use.

What proved to be a very useful approach is that I involved them in cooking at a very early age. So not being able to cook is not an excuse for them anymore.

This time I’m going to share with you one of my favorite cooking techniques. The best thing about it is that you do not have to own any special equipment. The method is called: ”en papillote” which means “in paper”. The name speaks for itself, you throw a bunch of things of your choice on a piece of parchment paper, wrap them tightly and cook (rather steam) the parcel in the oven. That’s it more or less. It’s very simple, yet versatile.

The extra bonus is that you can get these dinner parcels fully prepared on your meal prep occasions, put them into the freezer, and then come up with a healthy and fancy meal in a little more than half an hour with no work at all.

You have to keep a few rules in mind:

1. Chose tender meat (like chicken breast) or fish.

2. When picking and chopping your veggies consider that they should get cooked approximately at the same time with the protein.

3. If you are planning to freeze the parcel, avoid veggies with a high water content, they are more likely to get soggy.

4. Add veggies, herbs and spices. Don’t overcomplicate it.

5. You may add 1-2 tablespoons of extra liquid to help steam develop (according to my experience it is certainly not a must).

6. Fold to parcel tight.

7. Relax and improvise.

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Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

Tools

  1. Parchment paper
  2. Ziploc bags
  3. Knife
  4. Cutting board
  5. Peeler
  6. Stapler

Ingredients

I give quantities per person (per parcel) for the ease of making multiple batches. As mentioned above, these quantities and ingredients are not set in stone, feel free to play around with them and add new ones.

Fish

No.1.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150g salmon (or your fav fish) fillet
  • ½ small red onion
  • a small carrot
  • a small beetroot
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh dill

No.2.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150g salmon fillet
  • ¼ red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • 8-10 olives
  • salt

No.3.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150g salmon fillet
  • ½ red onion
  • chili
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger
  • ½ lemongrass
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 Brussels sprouts (interchangeable with any cabbage eg. kale, depending on what you can put your hands on)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh goat cheese
  • salt pepper

No.4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150g saithe fillet
  • ¼ red onion
  • ½ small beetroot
  • 1 slice orange
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger
  • chili
  • fresh dill
  • salt and pepper

Chicken

No. 1.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half chicken breast fillet
  • 80 g sweet potatoes cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • a few slices of onion halved
  • 1 small garlic clove chopped
  • salt

No. 2.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half chicken breast fillet
  • 2 slices of air-dried ham
  • 7-8 sage leaves
  • salt and pepper

No. 3.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half chicken breast fillet
  • 2 slices of air-dried ham
  • 2 Brussels sprouts
  • a few cubes of sweet potatoes
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 slice orange
  • a small piece of onion
  • a small piece of ginger
  • salt and pepper

No. 4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half of a chicken breast fillet
  • 5 cm leek sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 mushrooms sliced
  • thyme
  • salt

Step 2: How to Start Out

What you need when you want to make a number of these parcels is a well - prepared mise en place.

Gather everything you wish to use, wash and chop the ingredients where necessary then mix.

In detail:

  • Fish fillet - wash and slice
  • Chicken breast - wash and cut into two
  • Ginger - peel, wash chop
  • Brussels sprouts - remove the outside leaves cut the end of the stem, cut into half
  • Leek - wash, slice
  • carrots and beet - slice into julienne
  • mushroom, orange, lemon and onions- wash and slice
  • garlic - chop
  • sweet potatoes - cut into cubes
  • lemongrass - smash the end so that favours will be more intense
  • ham - slice

Step 3: Wrapping Technique

I used 40 x 38 centimeters pre-cut parchment paper. (Wax paper will not work, it can burn!)

Fold the parchment paper in half to create a crease then reopen it.

Lightly oil about a kid's palm size part of the paper on one side, layer the ingredients.

Fold the other half over to cover the stack of ingredients.

Create a series of folds along the outer edge slightly overlapping each other. Repeat this process. At this point the parcel should hold (the smaller folds you make, the better), but if you have any doubt, you may fix it with a stapler here and there.

They are ready to go into the preheated oven or place them (single or paired) into Ziploc bags and freeze them. So after a busy weekday all you have to do is to take them out, get rid of the Ziploc bag and bake them!

Step 4: Fish and Root Veggies

Fold the parchment paper in half, then reopen it, lightly oil it where the ingredients are going.

Place the vegetables, then the fish. Add salt, pepper and the dill. Wrap.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150g salmon (or your fav fish) fillet
  • ½ small red onion
  • a small carrot
  • a small beetroot
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh dill

Step 5: Chicken With Sweet Potatoes

Same procedure as under step 4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half chicken breast fillet
  • 80 g sweet potatoes cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • a few slices of onion halved
  • 1 small garlic clove chopped
  • salt

Step 6: Chicken and Mushrooms

Same procedure as under step 4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half of a chicken breast fillet
  • 5 cm leek sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 mushrooms sliced
  • thyme
  • salt

Step 7: Saltimbocca - Style Chicken

Same procedure as under step 4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half chicken breast fillet
  • 2 slices of air-dried ham
  • 7-8 sage leaves
  • salt and pepper

Step 8: Salmon With Lemon

Same procedure as under step 4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150g salmon fillet
  • ½ red onion
  • chili
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger
  • ½ lemongrass
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 Brussels sprouts (interchangeable with any cabbage eg. kale, depending on what you can put your hands on)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh goat cheese
  • salt and pepper

Step 9: Chicken With What's Left

Same procedure as under step 4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half chicken breast fillet
  • 2 slices of air-dried ham
  • 2 Brussels sprouts
  • a few cubes of sweet potatoes
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 slice orange
  • a small piece of onion
  • a small piece of ginger
  • salt and pepper

Step 10: Saithe Winter Style

Same procedure as under step 4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150g saithe fillet
  • ¼ red onion
  • ½ small beetroot
  • 1 slice orange
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger
  • chili
  • fresh dill
  • salt and pepper

Step 11: Cook and Serve

Preheat the oven to 190 - 200 Celsius.

Place the parcels into the oven, You'll soon see them puffing up. I cook the fish for 20 minutes and the chicken for 30 and give an extra 10 -15 minutes if they come from the freezer. (Times may vary depending on the oven and the size of the parcel/thickness of the meat!)

Remove from the oven, place the parcel on the plate as it is, open it up with a knife (watch out, steam will escape) and enjoy!

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    2 Discussions

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    zakbobdop

    5 days ago

    I'm not exactly the average teenager. I can survive a day on just a hearty breakfast, but I'm pretty sure that 4 of these could feed... subtract the 1, carry the 4... 3/4 of one of my friends!

    (Just kidding. Great instructable :D)

    1 reply