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need help with foil packet cooking

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I have a recipe for a "seafood bake" in individual single-serving foil packets on the grill. The recipe calls for a cod fillet, shrimp, corn on the cob, and sliced new potatoes with a little bit of butter and dill, salt and pepper. I've made it once and it turned out very good (even though I'm not a huge fan of dill). Only took about 13-14 minutes on the gas grill.

I'm headed to the beach with some family and, for one of our meals, I wanted to make this recipe. I am not very familiar with foil-packet cooking, however, so I have some questions. Here they are:
1. Can I make 6-8 servings of this and place it in one large covered foil pan and achieve the same results?
2. If I can do the above, what should I estimate the cooking time to be?
3. Can it be done on a charcoal grill instead of a gas grill? Or perhaps the oven would be better?

Also, if you have a favorite foil-packet recipe or tip, please share!

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  1. I don't think placing it in a foil covered pan will give the same results. I have only done the foil packet cooking in the oven with salmon or sole, a julienne of assorted veggies, a splash of wine, various fresh herbs and finished with a white beurre blanc after it comes out; this method seems to bake/steam the food and usually takes 12 minutes in a 350 oven; I would think it would be the same time whether on a gas or charcoal grill but I don't recommend the foil covered pan that you are thinking about.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bakerboyz

      I was skeptical of using the large foil pan, but it sure would be easy if it worked. I wasn't sure if anyone had tried a similar recipe with one of these pans. I'll probably try your oven-method as I'm hesitant to try this on a flaming-hot charcoal grill.

    2. Personally, I would seperate the dishes into one for fish/shrimp, one for the corn and one for the potatoes. I just think with the quanitity it will get pretty messy if you mix all that corn on the cob with all that fish. Otherwise, go back to individual packets. I always like charcoal better, it may cook faster though so watch that as it can be hotter if you can''t control the height of the grill/coals.

      I tried to get the foil pouches last time camping and the store told me they can't get them anymore - I haven't researched this but made my own with the new foil with a non-stick on one side.

      Sounds wonderful - good luck.

      1. works better in individual foil packets, esp on charcoal-- you can move them around to the edge of the hot coals as the packets get done. might want to consider doing potatoes and other vegggies seperately as others said, but it sounds like you have an old-school "hobo pack" recipe where everything is together in the same packet so you might want to stay with it.

        if the recipe calls for only butter i would sub a little evoo for part of the butter-- you may see a good result when you cook it-- less likely to scorch that way.

        1. En papillotte! That's what foil-packet cooking is called in France. I don't see why it wouldn't work in a large foil pan. I think the individual foil packet is just to make the serving look cuter. I never buy special foil packets, just make my own out of tin foil. Never need grease, because the fishies generate plenty of liquid.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Amanita

            Have you ever noticed with the foil packs how they start flat and when they are fully cooked they expand, that's due to the steam, seam and the seal in the bag; you would not get that with the pan and foil top IMHO.

          2. A friend and I threw foil packets together for camping, didn't refigerate for 12 hours because of the drive and on-the-way sightseeing, and these turned out great:

            Quartered fingerling potatoes -- white and purple
            Sliced leeks
            A few whole peeled garlic cloves for each packet
            Halved/quartered patty pan squash, twice as thick as potatoes so they cook at same rate -- green and yellow
            Generous slices of halloumi cheese (this is what makes it -- an absolute must since it won't melt, just softens and gets a little smokey and slightly runny)
            Olive oil, salt (not too much because of the cheese), and pepper

            These are hard to overcook because there is no meat or seafood. We found that keeping the packets rather thin worked well so the heat permeated evenly -- think slab rather than sausage shape. This might actually work in a large pan if you add a little white wine or broth... or even water or perhaps a little beer to keep things moist? Best wishes!

            1. I've done a similar thing for "beach cookouts". The foil pans do not work as well as the individual packets but they do work. Charcoal grills work just as well as gas, so long as you err to side of too little charcoal -- a little longer cooking time is not as big a problem as burned food.

              The thing that makes the pans less effective than separate foil pouchs is that the moisture does not get distributed as evenly. The layering of food in the individual packets is not super critical, but in a pan the weight of taters and corn tend to break-up the fish. Putting them at the bottom is not so good either, as they can burn. To somewhat counter act this I have used a more "buried in the campfire" method with the foil pans. You have to start a bonfire way ahead of time and then spread a very shallow layer of embers under the pan resting on rocks/bricks and bank up embers around the sides/top of the foil pan. Cooking time is longer, but still around 25-30 minutes. You have to use smallish disposable foil pans too -- the shear weight of more than 3-4 serving of fish, corn and potatoes is unwieldy, once you have to maneuver the embers around a big pan it is downright dangerous. The mass of a foil pan is a fraction of any regular kitchen pan and does not hold near as much heat, Far safer.

              I too think a little bit of olive or even vegetable oil tends to help prevent the butter from burning/scorching.

              Good Luck!