Sunday, November 20, 2011

Poached Halibut with Potatoes

We had a couple of Yukon Gold potatoes left over from a dish last week and wanted a fish dinner after the beef delight the night before. As there was rain predicted and the sun is basically setting as early as it ever does in the year for the next few weeks, the Big Green Eggs are more or less out of commission until the spring so no outside grilling of the fish.

I had the basics of this recipe hanging around from somewhere a couple of years ago so I resurrected what I had of it and fill in the missing pieces.

Mise en place:

1 onion diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Yukon Gold potatoes sliced very thinly
1 cup white wine (I used a Urano from Eral Bravo in Argentina)
1 cup chicken broth
several twigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
black pepper
1 pound fillet halibut (East Coast fluke)
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook until limp and translucent.

Add the sliced potatoes, wine, broth, and seasonings and gently bring to a boil, then cover to cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the fish and top off the liquid with more broth or water so that the fish is just submerged. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes with liquid just at a simmer.
Remove the cover and raise the heat a little to maintain the simmer, allowing the liquid to reduce until the fish is done, about 5-7 minutes.

The ability to determine when a fish is done and not either under- or overdone is one of the two weakest links in cooking fish for most novice (and some not-so-novice) cooks, the other being the ability to select a fresh fish. It took me a while to develop this skill and still can be a bit tricky. In this case, I checked that the fish meat was starting to flake and that there was no red in the fold of the fillet. Eric Ripert also recommends using a metal skewer to pierce the meat and then bring its tip to the tongue - if the tip is not warm, the fish is not yet done. In addition to checking for the flaking, I used a crab picker for the 'tongue test'. Indeed I was tempted to remove the fish from the heat just a little too early but resisted based on both tests and very glad I did.

Use a spatula to remove the fish and potatoes onto a platter. If there is still a fair amount of liquid remaining in the pan, raise the heat a touch and reduce the liquid a bit more until it is the consistency of a nice sauce for the dish. Season the dish to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle on the chopped parsley to serve.
We served this with a side of kale and olives, the same dish I blogged about last month.

This dish was probably one of my better in-the-house fish dinners as the broth was amazing which I think may have been from the wine I used. All in all this one is now a keeper for us. 
Let me know if you try this and how it turns out and/or if you have any questions about preparing it.
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