Parchment paper is used to line baking pans as it is coated with silicon, which makes it non-stick – ideal for baking cookies and brownies. But parchment paper also makes a nifty cooking tool, especially if you don’t have any plates or, more likely, don’t want to wash up. Do not confuse parchment paper with waxed paper which will burn and melt when it comes in contact with fire and heat. Here are five ways to use parchment paper in your everyday cooking.
1. Cook en papillote
Oui, that’s French for cooking in a packet. Fashion one from a square of parchment paper by folding it in half. Next, place your ingredients in the centre where the folding line is, fold over both sides and fasten with beaten egg white. Or cut a circular or heart shape out of the paper and twist and fold the edges around the circumference – kind of like how you would mould the side of a curry puff. Then pop the entire package into the oven to cook.
For this cooking method, it’s best that you pick a main with lots of natural flavour, such as salmon or cod, as the parchment paper will work like a steam bath and cook the food in its own juices. For the same reason, be sure to throw in herbs and condiments so that you seal in all their combined flavours.
A fast-to-cook, good-to-eat en papillote recipe: an assortment of mushrooms with wedges of butter and black pepper.
2. Roast vegetables
Line your baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper, then lay “hard” or root veggies like carrots, broccoli, pumpkin and sweet potatoes on it before you pop them into the oven. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables and lets you see to your other chores while the food cooks on its own.
3. Fry an egg without oil
If you don’t have a non-stick pan, line a conventional one or a wok with parchment paper. You won’t even need oil for this, which is why health fanatics love this frying method.
4. Make grilled cheese sandwiches
Parchment paper will make this a less messy affair. Wrap the sandwich in the paper and place it in a toaster oven. The bonus: the bread becomes crispier and you won’t have to scrub a hot, grimy, oily tray. Yay!
5. Cook anything acidic
Aluminum pots and pans react negatively with acidic foods such as tomatoes, fruit and vinegar, changing their flavours. The metal also turns dark easily as a result of oxidation. To avoid this, line your aluminum pot or pan with parchment paper if you are making a tomato stew or cooking fruit for use in jams.