Friday, October 1, 2010

What's cooking?


You know how women have the reputation of standing in front of a closet full of clothes but claim they can’t find anything to wear? Well, that was me the other day, but I was standing in front of my refrigerator full of food, and even with a list of ideas in my notebook, could not come up with a single dish I wanted to make. I thought about it off and on throughout the day, and was getting increasingly unmotivated about dinner. I’d aimlessly meander over to the fridge and the pantry, hoping something would speak to me. What finally did was a lonely can of white beans.

Sometimes all you need is one ingredient to make everything fall into place. For me, it usually starts with the star of the show; the juicy piece of beef or the delicate piece of fish. But for some reason, seeing those beans made me instantly think: poached halibut on a bed of beans! Thankfully, my funky mood was lifted and was replaced by that happy “I know what I’m making for dinner” mood. I love that mood.

I’ve wanted to try poaching fish for a long time, but have always had this weird hang-up about it, envisioning something like boiled fish. I’d eaten poached fish in restaurants and it was always wonderful and very moist, but for some reason I never prepared it that way at home. Until now…and it won’t be the last time.


Poached Halibut with White Beans and Roasted Fennel and Onion

Roasted Fennel and Onion:
1 fennel bulb
1 red onion
olive oil
salt and pepper

Beans:
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 slices bacon, cut into lardons
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Halibut:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
white wine (amount depends on size of pot)
2 halibut filets
salt and pepper

Prepare the fennel and onion by slicing each lengthwise into thin strips. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven until soft, about 15 minutes.

Cook bacon in a small pot until starting to crisp. Pour off fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pot. Add garlic and let soften. Mix in beans, salt and pepper and just heat through. If beans look a little dry, add a splash of white wine or water. (To make bacon-free, just start with the garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil.)

For the halibut, choose a small pot or baking dish that can go from stovetop to oven that is just big enough to lay the halibut filets in side by side. (I used a small Le Creuset dutch oven.)

Seed and slice tomatoes lengthwise. Heat olive oil in the pot and add tomatoes. Let soften, then stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. When garlic is softened, add enough white wine so it will just cover the halibut. (I used about 2 cups.) When wine comes to a boil, reduce and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Season halibut with salt and pepper. Place filets in the poaching liquid and put in a 400 degree oven. Cooking time will vary depending on thickness of filets. The halibut will turn white when cooked. (Mine cooked for 10 minutes.)

Plate beans, then halibut, and top with roasted fennel and onions. (You could spoon a little poaching liquid of the halibut if you want…I didn’t.)


I really liked all of these components; both on their own and as a whole. Each piece added its own distinct flavor to the dish, but also paired together beautifully.

Roasting the fennel and onions brings out their sweetness and takes away any harshness they have raw. The beans offer a creamy hominess, and the bacon of course offers its usual fantastic bacony quality. (Bacony? It should be a word.)

And although the halibut didn’t start out as the star when I originally planned the dish, it certainly ended up that way. Poaching is such a gentle way to cook fish, and the poaching liquid imparts just hints of what went into the broth. A taste of tomato, a pinch from the red pepper flakes and garlic. The end result is moist and tender.

I did a little happy dance when I tasted this…that’s how I think every meal should be.

37 comments:

  1. Yum! I love halibut -- quite possibly my favorite fish. We used to have tons of it growing up (and tons of salmon), and I remember loving halibut because you could dress it up any way you wanted. Great recipe, Karen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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  2. We LOVE halibut too! Ok, I have those days you mention all too often! You came up with a beautiful idea and recipe! Halibut is a possibility for us tonight...

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  3. I've definitely experienced this - both in front of my closet and my fridge! I think this is why I love reading food blogs so much...inspiration for a great dish that I put in the back of my head for one of those "what to do" moments!

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  4. I have never eaten halibut. After reading your post, I am going to give it a try . Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe.

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  5. Delicious! I love the combination of flavors!

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  6. Creative imagination into a tasty dish! Congratulations

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  7. I have that feeling in front of the fridge all the time. So glad your scrouging led to such a great dinner dish.

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  8. Love the recipe. I enjoy poached fish so much. It seems to capture the true taste of the fish without masking it in toppings or heavy flavors.
    Halibut was the perfect choice.
    Great post!

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  9. I haven't had halibut in such a long time. This looks wonderful and glad you were able to make such a great meal. I envy you, I'm useless at coming up with recipes on my own and need a recipe in front of me, lol. Thank you for visiting my blog, it's nice to "meet" you!

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  10. I have the same problem - but it sounds like you actually came up with something intriguing. I just go with boxed mac-n-cheese or spaghetti. Kudos!

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  11. I've never tried poaching either, I really should! You've inspired me.

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  12. I'm the same way when I can't decide what to make for dinner. I'll stare inside my fridge for the longest time until I pick my main ingredient and suddenly, the stars align and everything comes together! :)

    Love halibut. This is a great recipe.

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  13. I often have the same problem when it comes to figuring out what to cook for dinner. I keep meaning to make weekly menus but somehow I never get around to it. :) This was a great meal!

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  14. I've never poached fish either! You make me feel like I've been missing out - this looks absolutely delicious!

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  15. Sometimes I swear we're long-lost foodie sisters or something! I also had a night like that this week where I stared into the fridge and was looking for dinner motivation! Love it when it comes together...I just posted my spur-of-the-moment creation today too :)!

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  16. This sounds absolutely delicious, and I love all these flavors together!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the kind comment :)

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  17. I love your intro. I often find my most creative moments come when I have nothing in my fridge and am trying to squeeze out one more meal before going to the grocery! Sometimes really unique and tasty dishes come together!

    The fish and white beans sounds lovely--a perfect dish for fall!

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  18. What an elegant and humble dinner! Can't wait to try this out!

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  19. Oh, My, Goodness. The chocolate put it over the top!!! They were fantastic!! I would love for you to try them. I was also thinking butterscotch :)

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  20. Fantastic and healthy meal. I don't have halibut, but I do have cod. Can't wait to give this a try!

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  21. Oh man...Fennel is such a fun interesting veggie. This really reminds me a great white bean side dish I once had except with the addition of halibut.

    Beautiful!

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  22. I love halibut and yours looks so tasty. I can totally relate about standing in front of a fridge full of food and drawing a total blank. However, it looks like the halibut was a great idea. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  23. I think I would do the happy dance too - this looks great!

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  24. What a great dish - I love fennel!

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  25. Poached halibut, white beans, fennel ... sounds like a marriage made in heaven :-)
    Sue

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  26. I love fish and white beans! This looks sooooo good! I may try this very soon! I have not tried poaching fish before. I have poached chicken and have loved it, so I am not sure why I have not tried fish.

    Oh, and yes, the little Jalapeno tarts... you can't just eat one. I ate 4 at the party. And then I ate 4 more when I got home last night! (Maybe more... but who's counting?)

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  27. I love this recipe! I adore fennel and can't wait to try this soon.:)

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  28. This is my first visit your your blog, and I love it! I also enjoy halibut! Can't wait to try your recipe! When you have a moment please "visit" me in New England! I love company and new Followers are so exciting! I enjoyed my visit today!

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  29. Hi, I'm so glad you left a comment on my blog because now I've found yours. You are so so talented! I can't believe that you make every recipe up yourself. This looks fabulous. I love beans :)

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  30. So lovely combo of fish and beans. I will have to try it.

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  31. Hi!!! Beautiful combination and nice write up. I'm loving your blog and so happy that you found mine and even followed. Awesome. More later, your new friend, Keri

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  32. I have never poached fish before. I tried this recipe tonight, and it turned out perfectly cooked, very delicate, moist, and flavorful. Thank you for making me try something I thought would taste like boiled fish. We need to step out of our comfort cooking zones sometimes.
    Patty

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  33. Oi, vim conhecer seu blog e adorei. Suas receitas são ótimas. Muito bom. Venha me conhecer também. Uma boa semana pra você.

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  34. Love this combination...sounds delicious :)

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  35. First of all, bacony should be a word along with baconishness and baconista. Secondly, this reminds of a dish that I ordered years ago when dining out. I haven't been able to remember what restaurant it was but the fish and beans together were fantastic.

    Great recipe! This is another healthy but hearty type of food that warms you up from the inside.

    ReplyDelete
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