Today’s post is the second installation in the Cook from Books series, which is my effort to cook through the latest additions to my recipe collection and develop my culinary chops (and yours) all at the same time.

A Book Worth a Look

The recipe comes from Just Cook It by Justin Chapple, a book that entered my radar at an event here in San Francisco where I was lucky enough to lunch next to the author himself. It was a lovely occasion and also an exercise in getting smacked in the face by your own assumptions.

Justin is the culinary director of  Food & Wine magazine, and frankly,  a pretty big deal in the New York food scene. You hear that and it’s hard not to conjure up images of someone too full of his own talent to be interested in  a middle aged mom with a knack for feeding kids.

That couldn’t have been further from reality. He was down to earth, warm, and engaging. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to know he was the star of the show unless someone pointed it out.

Halibut in Parchment

Likewise, his cookbook is just as approachable, with 145 recipes entirely free of fuss and pretense. The guy dedicated his book to Grandma Barbara, for goodness sake.

Easy Fish in Parchment Paper

Case in point is this halibut recipe. It sounds kind of fancy, I know, but is nothing more than tossing vegetables with seasonings, plopping fish fillets on top, bundling it up in one big parchment pouch, and shoving it into the oven.

The result is both dramatic and delicious. Once it’s out of the cooker, you snip into the parchment to reveal a one-dish meal pretty enough to serve to guests and easy enough for a middle aged mom to serve her kids. The recipe (and the book) are both keepers.

This is the second installation of the Cook from Books series, If you missed the first one, check out this recipe for Fancy Smashed Pea Toast with Marinated Feta.

Halibut, Sweet Corn & Mushrooms in Parchment

This recipe is super summery because of the corn but still earthy and hearty because of the mushrooms. If you have time, and I’m not saying this is required, try quick-brining the halibut first. It adds even more flavor and helps season the fish all the way through. Just mix 4 cups water with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoons sugar, add the fillets, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain the fish and pat dry before cooking.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 460 kcal
Author Justin Chapple

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn, husks and silks removed
  • 3/4 pound mixed mushrooms, such as cremini and shitakes, halved or quartered if large
  • 8 small spring onions, greens cut into 1-inch lengths and bulbs quartered (you can substitute scallions with large bulbs; no need to quarter)
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Four 5-6-ounce skinless halibut fillets, about 1 inch thick, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup lightly packed torn fresh basil
  • 1-3 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper (vary amount depending on your tolerance for heat)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 

  2. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and put into a large bowl. You should have about 2 cups of kernels. (Feel free to use thawed frozen corn, too, if it’s easier.) 

  3. Add the mushrooms, spring onions, sliced lemon, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Toss to mix the vegetables.
  4. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper.
  5.  Lay a 3-foot-long piece of parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet. (Parchment can be easier to work with if you crumple it first and then spread it out). 

  6. Mound half the corn-and-mushroom mixture on one half of the parchment paper and top with the halibut fillets. Mound the remaining corn-and-mushroom mixture on the fish. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar on top and then scatter the butter over everything. Fold the parchment over the fish and then, starting at one end, fold over the edge and crimp it to seal. Continue folding over and crimping the edge at 1-inch intervals until you reach the opposite end, then twist the corner to make it airtight.
  7. Bake the packet for 20 minutes, until slightly puffed. Using scissors, snip open the packet to release the steam (be careful—it’s hot). Using a spoon, transfer the vegetables, halibut, and any juices to a deep platter or four shallow bowls. Scatter the basil and jalapeño evenly on top and serve hot.

Recipe lightly adapted and reprinted with permission from Justin Chapple