Monkfish with Browned Butter Sauce

Monkfish with Browned Butter Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 fillets monkfish, approximately 6oz each (can substitute with cod, halibut, mahi-mahi, etc.)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup broth (vegetable, chicken, or seafood)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Liberally salt and pepper the fish fillets. Add oil to a pan heated to medium heat and lay the fish fillets onto the oiled surface. Cover the pan and cook for 6-10 minutes (depending on thickness of fillets), or until fully cooked inside (~140ºF/60ºC), flipping the fish halfway through cooking. Transfer the fish to a plate and set aside. Add the butter and garlic to the pan and heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter has start to turn a golden brown. Add the wine and broth, stirring well. Allow the sauce to reduce by half, then add the whipping cream. Allow the sauce to cook for a 2-3 minutes, then add the tarragon, stirring in completely. Add the fish back to the pan, spooning the sauce over the fish. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately.

And now for the details…

So… monkfish. Have you tried this fish before? If you haven’t, I would say: no time like the present!

Monkfish has often been referred to as the “poor man’s lobster”, since it’s quite dense in texture, and a bit sweet in taste, a bit different from the typical flaky texture you get from many other white-fleshed fish. But I don’t love that reference, to be honest. It devalues the monkfish. Monkfish is similar to lobster in texture, but to think that the only thing it has to offer is as a cheap replacement to lobster is taking away the amazingness that is the monkfish! It doesn’t have quite the same flavour as lobster, it has a taste all unto itself: a bit sweet, salty, and of course there is no mistaking that it is in fact fish, but not an unpleasant fishy taste. And can we talk about the fact that you don’t need to shell it like you do lobster? BONUS!!!

Monkfish is a weird looking fish. I’m not sure which of our ancestors decided it would be okay to put this in our mouths, but they were certainly quite brave! Seriously, do a quick internet search for “monkfish” to see what these look like pre-fillet and you’ll understand what I mean. They are also aptly called “sea-devils”, which is nomenclature I can get behind. Could you imagine swimming and seeing one of these things drawing near??? Okay, I’m exaggerating, since you probably wouldn’t see them… From what I’ve read, they aren’t stalkers like a shark, and like to hunt by camouflaging themselves and waiting for their prey to draw near, but still!

An interesting bit of information I have found on these is that the only useable bits for the entire fish are the cheeks and the tail. If you’re not squeamish about watching a fish being filleted, check out this super cool video by Fish For Thought TV, where the gents break down an 18kg monkfish. They did some weighing throughout the process, and in the end, there was only just over 3kg of meat on an 18kg fish!

To get started with our cooking process, check out your fillets to make sure there is no membrane left on the fish. The fishmonger I had purchased my fish from had done a pretty great job of cleaning that fish before selling, and I had only a tiny bit of membrane left, and was able to remove it easily with my fingers, no knife needed! The membrane will cook to be quite tough and chewy, and considering the plump, meaty, juiciness of the fish, we definitely want to lose that membrane!

Next, salt and pepper your fillets quite liberally and let them sit for at least a few minutes. While you are waiting, get your other ingredients out and chop the garlic and set aside. This will allow you to move quickly through the cooking process, so you get to eating faster!

Next, add the oil to a medium- to large-sized pan. I suggested 1 tablespoon, but to be honest, you want just enough for a light coating on the pan. You can even use a paper towel to swish it around, coating the bottom surface, and soaking up any excess that isn’t needed. Heat the pan over medium heat, and then add the fish to the pan.

Cover the pan while the fish is cooking, lifting it only to turn the fish halfway through the cooking process. How long to cook the fish will totally depend on the size of the fillet. I used a temperature probe and aimed for an internal temperature of 140ºF/60ºC. It took my fillets about 10 minutes to cook through. The goal, like most fish, is for the translucent colour to turn opaque. Try to avoid overcooking the fish, since it can get dry and kind of tough if you cook it too long.

Once the fish is cooked through, take it out and place it on a plate to the side while you prepare the sauce.

Keeping the temperature the same, or just *slightly* higher, add the garlic and butter to the pan and let them cook, swirling the pan occasionally (as in, pick up the pan and swish it in a circular motion to get the butter and garlic to swirl around in the pan, then put it back down, repeating every now and again). This will go through a few steps here. First, the butter will melt down and encompass the garlic in a glorious hug. Next, the butter will kind of foam up, and the garlic will release that glorious smell. Then, both the garlic and the butter will start to brown and smell a bit toasty. That toasty smell is your cue to add the broth and the wine. When adding the liquid, things may get a little spurty. To minimize this, try to get the broth and wine to room temperature before adding, and stir well once you add them in. Let the sauce simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half, then add the whipping cream, stirring in completely. Let this come to a simmer and cook for another few minutes (1-3) until the sauce thickens slightly. Add the tarragon, then give the sauce a quick taste-test, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Next, add the fish back into the pan. This is just to reheat, not cook, the fish, so don’t leave it in for too long. Less than a minute for sure. Spoon the sauce up over the fish to help it reheat on all sides. Finally, transfer the fish to a serving dish, and then spoon the sauce over the fish, and serve!

Happy eating.

Oven Fried Chicken and Tomato Pasta (AKA let's reinvent the Kraft Pizza Box)

Oven Fried Chicken and Tomato Pasta

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 Kraft Pizza Kit
  • 10 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 7 large mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsps butter, melted
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 14 cherry tomatoes, cut in pieces
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp freeze dried basil
  • 2 Tbsps red wine
  • 150 g (5.5 oz) dried pasta, linguine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions


Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Place 1/4 cup of butter in large glass baking dish and place in the oven until its melted. Remove from oven. Remove items from kit. Remove 1.5 cups from pizza dough mix, place the rest of the mix in a bowl. Add herb packet and cheese packet, garlic powder and salt, mixing well. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, with 1 tablespoon of water. Dip the drumsticks one at a time, from the egg wash, to powder mix, back to eggs, back to powder, then place in the melted butter in the baking dish. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons butter over chicken in dish. Bake in oven for 35 minutes, then remove and turn carefully. Put back in the oven for 15 more minutes, or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF/75ºC. Sauté garlic in a pan in the olive oil until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook. Add tomatoes, sauce from the can in the kit, oregano, basil and wine, and cook down. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add to the sauce, allow it to cook down further. Drain pasta. Mix the pasta with the sauce. Serve.

And now for the details…

We are at day 7 of 14 in isolation, and I am at day 7 of my quarantine challenge to post a new recipe every day. In the last post, I had talked about the Kraft Pizza Kit I received as a gag gift from a friend of ours while we are in isolation. The kit is something we both remember eating when we were young, and I think he was basically implying that since I am in isolation, I must be desperate enough to use the kit. And so this… this post is for you Marcus. I have reimagined the Kraft pizza box into oven fried chicken and pasta.

Let’s get right into it.

Start by preheating the oven to 425ºF/200ºC.

Let’s take a look at the contents of our pizza box: the dough mix, the herb packet, the cheese packet, and the sauce can.

Start by removing 1.5 cups out of the dough mix from the package and set it aside. Aside for what? No idea. From what I can see from the ingredients, the dough mix is pretty much Bisquick. So I guess use it as a replacement for that? Or………? *blank stare* The rest of the package goes into a bowl, along with the herb packet, the cheese packet, garlic powder, and salt. Mix these together well with a fork or whisk until they are mixed fully.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with one tablespoon of water to make an egg wash for the chicken.

Before moving on, melt 1/4 cup of the butter in a large glass baking dish in the oven. Once melted, take it out, and set it to the side to start placing the chicken in.

We will be double dipping the chicken to get a nice crust for the oven fry. Dip one of the drumsticks in the egg wash, coating completely. Then place it in in the powder mix, turning to coat. Place it back in the egg wash, coat, and then back again into the powder mix, coat. Place the drumstick in the baking dish. Repeat this procedure with all the chicken pieces until they have all been coated.

Once all the drumsticks have been coated and placed in the dish, melt another 2 tablespoons of butter in a small dish, and drizzle it over the drumsticks. Place the drumsticks in the oven for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven, and carefully turn the drumsticks over, trying to gingerly make the flip without tearing the skin or crust on the chicken. I didn’t have success with all the pieces, but 80% is still a passing grade, right?

Place back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the inside of the chicken registers at 165ºF/75ºC, making sure to not touch the bone with the thermometer.

In the last 15 minutes, we will cook our pasta and sauce. Sauté the garlic in the olive oil in a large pan until the garlic is fragrant, then add the mushrooms. Usually this is where I would suggest adding salt to help the mushrooms release their liquid, but the sauce in the kit is plenty salty, so we will not be adding any additional salt. If the pan gets too dry before the mushrooms start releasing liquid, add a splash of broth or water to keep the mushrooms and garlic from burning. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the tomatoes, and stir.

Finally, add the sauce from the can, the oregano and basil, and red wine, using your spoon to stir up any caramelization that formed in the bottom of the pan to absorb back into the sauce.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Just before removing the pasta from the stove, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce, mixing it in. Then, drain the pasta, and add it to the pan with the sauce, stirring well. Let the pasta and sauce cook for a short while more until thick.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven. Plate your chicken and pasta. I also cooked some broccoli in a separate dish while my chicken was cooking for some added greenery (just for you Mark, I knew you’d like that).

Serve and enjoy.

Happy eating.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Linguine with Clam Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans (142ml/4.8oz each) baby clams, drained
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to tase
  • 250g (8.8oz) dry linguine
  • 2 Tbsps grated parmesan cheese

Directions


Sauté the shallots on medium high heat in the olive oil until soft. Add the white wine, and cook down until reduced by over half. Add chicken broth and clams, stir. Add oregano and hot sauce, stir. Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces, then add to the sauce. Allow to melt and stir into the sauce. Cook the linguine. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce. Cook until sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce, and toss to mix. Top with parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper, serve

And now for the details…

This dish was a family favourite. We were introduced to it by a family friend when I was young, and it quickly became a special dish in our household. We had it often enough, that after a bit of time my mom would not even bother pulling the recipe card out when making it, she had made it so often. We had a tradition in our household that on our birthdays, we would get to choose what we wanted for dinner. The amount of times that I would choose this dish as my birthday dinner are innumerable. Not… because of my age… but because… I liked it so much… I can’t remember how many times… Okay, I’m getting old. Regardless, this is a special dish in my heart, and any time I’m feeling homesick or want some comfort food, this is the dish I turn to.

It’s also a fairly quick and easy meal to come together. So even though it was a special dish, it was still something that could come together on a school/work night in a fairly short amount of time. Pair it up with a simple green salad, and you’ve got yourself a great meal!

Start everything off by mincing the shallot and sautéing it in a large pan on medium high heat with the olive oil just until the shallot has started to soften and turned translucent. Add the white wine to the pan, stirring to mix.

We are going to let the white wine reduce until the liquid has almost completely boiled off. Just a small amount of liquid should be left in the pan.

Next, add your chicken broth and clams. Yes, I am suggesting to drain the clams, and yes, this is an opportunity to use the clam juice to increase the “clamminess” of your dish. But to be honest, I actually find the clam juice a bit too salty (I know, it’s shocking, I’m calling something too salty, call the press) and not as rich in umami flavour as using chicken broth as your liquid source. It’s also important to use baby clams in this dish. I made the mistake once of not paying attention when buying the canned clams and ended up with whole clam pieces. The texture is just not the same as the small, juicy bites of baby clams.

Stir, bringing the sauce back up to a simmer, then add the oregano and hot sauce. Just a few dashes of the hot sauce, we are not trying to burn our faces off (I mean, unless that’s what you are looking for, then have at ‘er), just adding an extra layer of flavour to the dish. Now is also a good time to start cooking your pasta so it is ready around the time as your sauce.

Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces. This will allow the cream cheese to melt faster, and meld into the sauce a bit faster. A quick note on cream cheese: you can use low fat cream cheese, but I would recommend the full fat. The low fat cream cheese does not melt as quickly, and it takes quite awhile before your sauce looks homogenous without a whole bunch of white chunks floating around.

Let the sauce simmer for a bit as you stir the melting cream cheese in. At this point, your pasta should be fairly close to being done as well. Before draining the pasta, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce and allow it to continue to simmer until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. The addition of the pasta water helps the sauce to thicken, and will help it adhere to the pasta. Give the sauce a final taste test and add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.

Once the sauce is ready, add the drained pasta to the pan, and stir to mix the sauce into the pasta. Transfer to a wide serving platter, and top with the parmesan and fresh ground pepper, then serve!

Happy eating.