Sunday, July 29, 2012

Halibut a la Moi! (a la Barigoule)

delicious meal for one or ten - such great flavors 
cippolini onions softening - love these little guys

Back by popular request - I initially published this back in April. This is a great summer fish dish, and perfect for Sunday night! I love halibut because it is mild, delicious, easy to handle, and appealing to a lot of fish eaters. It's not like some stronger types of fish, that will make some people turn up their noses when you mention you are serving fish. This halibut dish is adapted from a recipe in the fabulous (buy it asap!) Balthazar Cookbook. I use cippolini onions instead of pearl onions, because they have a better flavor, add cauliflower (I had some left over one time), leave out the white beans (I forgot to get them one time), and add capers at the end, because I like a touch of tart caper flavor. I also, as always play around with spices to adjust them to my palate. It's a really good one for entertaining, and as gour-maybes will appreciate - it is deceptively simple, yet looks like Julia Child herself has risen from the dead to cook dinner at your house.

Jump for the recipe:

halibut searing - notice the golden brown color
Halibut a la Moi Serves 4 (I halve these amounts for two servings and it works perfectly)
You will need:
  • 2 C basil leaves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 C cippolini onions, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch half moons
  • 1 C cauliflower florets broken into small (inch long) pieces
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (I used canned, because I am not cleaning 12 baby artichokes unless someone pays me) - sliced lengthwise into slivers
  • 4 C chicken stock (I use store-bought, but buy a good quality stock)
  • 1 C white wine
  • 2 T capers
  • 4 halibut fillets (6 oz/filet)
cutting board: garlic, carrots, cauliflower, onions
Start by prepping the vegetables. Prepare an ice bath (iced water) in a small bowl. Boil salted water in a small sauce pan. Submerge basil for 30 seconds to blanch. Remove and drop immediately into ice water to stop the cooking process. Blend basil with 1/4 C of the boiling liquid in a food processor. You should end up with a bright green puree, if it's a little dark, don't panic, it's a color thing, not a taste thing. Set puree aside.  Heat 1/4 C olive oil in a medium saute pan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add carrots, cauliflower, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and bayleaf and cook for an additional 5 minutes. When carrots and cauliflowers are soft, add the artichoke hearts and wine, simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the chicken stock, and simmer for about 25 minutes (add more stock if you need it to keep a broth present, do not let the vegetables dry out). Keep warm while you make the halibut.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with a layer of aluminum foil.

Pat the halibut fillets dry and season with salt and black pepper. I use a medium, non-stick saute pan and don't put more than two fillets in at a time. They need room. Heat 3 T of olive oil on high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, place the fillets in the pan and cook about 2 minutes per side for portions this size. They should be golden brown when you flip them. Transfer to the baking sheet and finish in the oven about 5-6 more minutes. Halibut is done when it begins to flake and the layers become distinct and begin to separate.  (see picture above)

Add basil puree and capers to barigoule mixture/sauce and stir to combine. Spoon into plates (preferably plates with a deep center) and top with a halibut filet. If you want to be fancy, take a leftover basil leaf and chiffonade (aka cut into small silvers) and sprinkle it across the plate for some color.

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