Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mallorcan Braised Grouper

Though actually, this is monkfish...

5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over the fish
1 medium sized onion, quartered and thinly sliced
5 medium sized garlic cloves, sliced
2tsp sweet (not smoked) paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 roasted red bell peppers (see below), cut into strips
2 roasted Yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
2 large vine ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2.5 cups Swiss chard, leaves only, chopped
1 medium sized bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup currants (I used raisins instead)
4 thick Grouper steaks about 2 lbs total (See Note)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dusting the fish
4 large Yukon gold potatoes (about 2lbs total), boiled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup pine nuts

Note: If you can’t get Grouper you can substitute another firm salt water fish like Monkfish, mahimahi, or halibut. If you want to use fillets, they need to be thick, and reduce the baking time by about 15 min. I used Monkfish and baked for 35 min and it was perfect

To roast the peppers:
Preheat the oven to 425f. Line a baking sheet with kitchen foil and brush it with olive oil. Core, cut in half and deseed the peppers. Place them on the sheet skin side up and push down on them gently to flatten. Brush with olive oil and bake for about 35 min. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 15 min, then peel.

Heat 4 tbsp oil in a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium-low heat. Cook onion and garlic for about 7 min. Add paprika and red pepper flakes, and stir for a few seconds. Add the roasted red and yellow peppers and the tomatoes, increase the heat to medium, and cook till they begin to release their juices, about 5 min. Stir in the chard and parsley and cook stirring till they just wilt. Add the bay leaf, wine and currents and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the vegetables are softened and the flavors are blended, 5-7 min. This can be prepared ahead, and refrigerated, covered for 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 300f
Rub the fish steaks generously with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in a pan over medium high heat. Dust the fish lightly with flour, add it to the skillet and sear for about 30 seconds on each side, then transfer to a plate.
Take an earthenware casserole or a deep glass baking dish in which the fish would fit snugly all in one layer. Arrange the potato slices on the bottom all in one layer, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle salt on the potatoes and arrange the fish on top. Remove the bay leaf from the veg mixture, season with salt to taste, and spoon it evenly over the fish, along with it’s pan juices. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the pine nuts. Bake till the fish is very tender, 45-50 min depending on thickness (see note above). Let cool for 10 min.

This recipe is from The New Spanish Table

This dish was so good! It took a bit of prep work because of roasting the peppers, but that can be done way before if you want to save time during the actual cooking. Actually, the whole veg mixture can be made up to a day in advance. Which ever way you do it, it is totally worth it.
The mix of flavors was really interesting. My husband pointed out that it has a bit of an African taste to it. That makes sense as it is from Mallorca, which I believe is not so far from there. It has a good balance of sweet and spicy, and also, since it has greens and potatoes and veg and fish all in it, it can really stand alone as a dinner. No need for side dishes if you don’t feel like it.

I used Monkfish, on the advice of my wonderful and knowledgeable fish guy. I’ve never cooked it before. It is a really good fish, very firm and meaty, and it stayed perfectly moist even though it cooked for a long time (I don’t know if that’s down to the fish or the recipe, but it sure is a good thing). It seemed fairly easy to bone too, which is a big deal for me since I feed it to the boys. They loved it by the way. My picky eater was suckered in by the raisins, he can’t resist raisins, and he discovered that he liked the fish too. I loved it, and also, I was not intimidated by cooking it. Looks like I might just get used to cooking fish after all.

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