Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Easy Halibut with Mashed Potatoes in a Fennel, Onion, Marinated Artichoke Heart & Roasted Tomato Sauté

Though you might be hard pressed to discover that we eat fish quite often... given the lack of postings in this space... it is, in fact, the case. And, most often, fish is my personal choice when dining out. It's also what I suggest to our daughters when queried for a "special" dish... something to make for a dinner party, a birthday... or such. Beyond tasting great, it plates beautifully and is super easy and quick to make.

I do, however, have to admit that I'm not really sure it's the fish, itself, that I enjoy so much.

It's really more about how it's dressed. It's one of the few bites that I truly feel needs that complementing morsel of flavor to truly deliver. A great piece of salmon, perfectly cooked, is wonderful. However, I think that same great bite of salmon with a little red pepper coulis is even better!

With halibut, I tend to want a punch of acidity or tartness... like tomatoes, capers, olives, or pesto, for example. That tangy, flavorful pop elevates halibut's relatively mild and delicate sweet flavor. Even if I lean, instead, to a fruit relish with mango and/or pineapple, I'll include a bit of red onion, jalapeño, or the like, to add that bit of zing.

And, with halibut in particular, I really love a flavorful broth or sauce... a lovely little pool of flavor to set it atop. It just works incredibly well.

Fish, itself, doesn't require a lot of "make up" to look and taste great. A simple sprinkle of salt and pepper is usually all that I add. And, most often, I just cook it up on the stove. What I tend to put a bit more thought into is how it will be dressed... these are the flavors of the meal... especially with halibut, as it readily adapts to what it's plated with...

In this serving, it's a simple sauté of fennel, onion, marinated artichoke hearts, and roasted tomatoes. A little sprinkle of salt and pepper, a little pop of white wine, and a touch of vegetable broth... and it's nearly done. Add a dollop of mashed yukon gold potatoes and it's completely dressed... in just about 30 minutes.

Easy Halibut with Mashed Potatoes in a Fennel, Onion, Marinated Artichoke Heart & Roasted Tomato Sauté
serves two

2 halibut fillets (4 to 6 ounces each, as preferred), skin removed
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered, then thinly sliced (about 3/4-1 cup)
1 small yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 6.5-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, with marinade
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted red tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup vegetable or fish broth
1/4 cup white wine
2 to 3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Place potatoes in a large pot of water and set on stove to boil; cook until fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to pot. Add milk (a little at a time) and butter. Mash and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, add about 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Add onions and fennel to pan and sauté until onion is translucent and fennel has softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add in white wine, broth, artichoke hearts (cut in half, if preferred), along with marinade, and tomatoes, with juice. Stir to combine and heat through, about 5 minutes. Cover and set aside.

In another large skillet, heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Season both sides of halibut with salt and pepper. After about a minute, reduce heat to medium high and add fish to pan; sauté undisturbed for about 3 to 5 minutes, until first side is golden and crisp. (If fish is fairly thick, more than an inch, you may want to reduce heat to medium.) Turn fish and continue cooking another 3 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness. Adjust heat according to thickness of fillet to ensure a crisp flesh, without over cooking. (The fish will continue to cook through a bit once removed from heat and resting.)

Ladle a bit of the tomato sauté into a shallow bowl. Top with a dollop of mashed potatoes and a halibut fillet. Serve immediately.

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