Friday, May 11, 2012

Chevre It Up Your Bass (Stuffed Bass with Chevre, Fennel and Garlic in Brown Butter)

Is it wrong to create recipes solely so you have an excuse to use a pun? If it is, oh well! This recipe, however, is not only punny, it is tasty, rich, full of flavor - and like all Gour-Maybe endeavors -  looks impressive, but it really easy to make! Let's chat about Chilean Sea Bass for a second, and it's going to get serious people. There are lots of reports on CSB's status varying from endangered to restricted, dating back to the early 2000's. I will say this, although the government, who of course we all trust blindly, issues this statement/fact sheet, I would ONLY purchase MSC (Marine Stewardship Council)-certified CSB. It is sustainable. It is not easy to find, but you must find it. The MSC site has store options (Wal-Mart to Whole Foods Market) that carry the certified product. You can also order it if you can't find it in your area. Use this guide or use a substitute - the most appropriate sub is Sablefish, but a Halibut would work! "Chevre It Up Your Halibut" doesn't exactly have the same ring to it though... but the environment is more important that humor. Usually. Kidding. Gour-Maybe Green note - there are many other fish species in similar situations - Orange Roughy, Shark, etc. always do your research and if you need to consult the MSC website it's a great resource. Recipe after the jump!

Stuffed Bass (Sablefish/Halibut) with Fennel, Chevre andGarlic in Beurre Noisette (serves 2)
You will need:
  • 1 Medium fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/4 inch strips, then diced (small dice)
  • 2 T Minced shallots
  • 6 cloves roasted garlic 
  • 5 T Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 4 T Chevre
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh Black Pepper
  • 2 6oz portions MSC Certified Chilean Sea Bass (if you cannot find/order MSC Certified Sea Bass, use something else - Sablefish or even Halibut)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 T Unsalted Butter for Beurre Noisette (fancy french term for Brown Butter)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 6 peeled cloves (I use more, because I like to make it in bulk to have some for later) of garlic in aluminum foil or in a ramekin. Cover with olive oil (appx. 3 T). Roast for approximately 30 minutes or until very tender. Set aside. Chop and dice the fennel and mince the shallots. Head 1 T of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots - cook until soft - about 3 minutes. Do not let them burn/brown. Add fennel and stir. Cook over medium heat until brown and caramelized, stirring frequently. Watch the heat, you might need to adjust, depending on your particular set-up. Throw entire pan out the window. Gotcha! (Never blindly follow instructions remember???) 

Put fennel/shallot mixture and roasted garlic cloves in a small bowl, use a fork to mash garlic into a paste. Add chevre and thyme leaves and stir well to combine, you should have a thick paste, season with the salt and pepper, adjusting seasoning to your liking. Create a pocket in each of your filets, by cutting crosswise starting about 1/4 inch from each end. so you will have almost, but not, cut completely through the fish. The ends will remain connected. Using your fingers, stuff the fennel/shallot/garlic/chevre paste into the fish - about 2 T per portion. Heat remaining olive oil in a saute pan over high heat until almost smoking. Salt and pepper the tops of the filets. Place in pan, top side down. Sear until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). Flip using silicone tongs, and sear the skin side (about 2-3 minutes). Transfer to a baking sheet and bake an additional 5-7 minutes until opaque, and distinctive flakes start to form. CSB is a fish you don't want to under cook (not like tuna or salmon). So make sure you are really checking this to make sure it's done. Remember it also has the stuffing, so that makes it cook a little slower.

While fish is cooking make the Beurre Noisette (aka Brown Butter). Melt the remaining 4 T butter over medium heat, once it has melted the butter will foam up a bit, then the bubbles will begin to disappear. Watch carefully as brown butter can go from delicious to burnt quickly. Brown specks will form on the bottom of the pan, so that the entire mixture takes on a chestnut color (deep golden brown). Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma. Once it reaches this stage/color, immediately remove it from the heat. Remove filets from oven. Place a filet on each plate, skin site down. Spoon 2 large spoonfuls of Beurre Noisette on each plate, so it surrounds the fish. Sprinkle with fresh thyme and a few cracks of sea salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

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