Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sautéed Atlantic Halibut with Summer Succotash and Rue-Scented Onion Glaze

When I saw the word "succotash" in the title of this dish, I scanned the ingredients right away to see if it was a lima bean succotash or perhaps another bean. In that split second of scanning the page, I hoped against hope that the word "lima" would appear nowhere on the page. "Surely," I said to myself, "Thomas Keller would not use anything as pedestrian and 1972-ish as a freakin' LIMA bean." And I was right. If you haven't guessed by now, I can't stand lima beans. When my mom made succotash when I was little, I'd pick out every lima bean and eat only the corn. Lima beans - bleeaarrrghhhh.... it's like eating compressed corrugated cardboard chunks wrapped in wax. Fava beans, however, are meaty and hearty and delicious. Not like stupid lima beans. Which I hate. A lot. Almost as much as I hate frisée. And that's saying something.

Let's get started. There's no one photo of a mise en place, because I did this in steps throughout the afternoon. The first thing I did was sear and braise the cipollini onions. I cut off enough of the root so that they would sear properly, but left the skins on so that they'd braise correctly. Here they are being seared in a tiny bit of canola oil, stovetop:

After they'd been seared (about 4 minutes) and the oil drained from the pan, I added some chicken stock, followed by a few sprigs of thyme and a sprig of rue (a pot of which I just bought this morning at the farmers' market!), a tablespoon of honey, and a pinch or two of salt:

As the heat increased and it got closer to a simmer, the rue "made an entrance." Out of nowhere, I smelled this floral nuttiness (I don't know how else to describe it) and it was gorgeous. I'd never cooked with rue before, and was pleasantly surprised to find it at the farmer's market this morning. I figured I could just substitute some rosemary since I hadn't been able to find rue at the grocery store.

I brought the onions, stock and herbs to a simmer, then covered the pot with a parchment lid and allowed it to braise in a 325-degree oven for about 45 minutes:

People of America and of The World: I MADE A PARCHMENT LID!! It did not curl up and get all funky like the other times I tried to make one! It worked! WOOOO-HOOOO!!!!! Probably because I followed the instructions in the book (shocker), as well as the helpful tips from a previous commenter. Take your hands off your keyboard and mouse for just one freakin' minute and give me some applause, will you? WILL YOU!!?!!? Thank you. Thank you very much. You can stop clapping now. You're hurting my ears.

While the onions were a-braisin' in the oven, I prepped the succotash. First up? Poaching 4 ears of baby corn in some milk and sugar:

While that was becoming poach-tastic, I opened up the fava bean pods and removed the germ from each bean. Look how huge these are (that's what she said):

I blanched the favas, along with some red and yellow bell pepper, and added them to a saucepan along with the baby corn (which I sliced into rondelles). I also added some minced chives and some brunoise (which I smartly made and froze weeks ago so I'd have some on hand all the time, and not have to make it every freakin' time I did one of these dishes) to the mixture. I added a little bit of butter to the pan, and warmed the whole shebang to get it ready for plating.

When the onions were done and all braise-a-licious, I plucked them out of the pan, peeled them, and got them ready for plating. I poured the braising liquid through a strainer and quick-reduced the liquid to sort of a glaze-like consistency. It was probably a little looser than the cookbook suggests but I was HUNGRY and was ready to serve my guests.

The last step was to cook the halibut. I love halibut. I love its taste, its texture, the speed with which it cooks, how well it holds butter... there's not one thing about halibut I can complain about. I know: MIRACLE. I got a nice piece of halibut at the market, cut it into 2x2" squares, lightly coated it with flour, salt and pepper and cooked it two minutes on each side. I let it drain on paper towels and started to plate the final dish. I didn't take a photo of this step, because: BORING.

To plate, I put a tablespoon of the glaze on the plate, topped with the onion and a piece of halibut, side by side. Then, I topped the onion and fish with the succotash. I didn't have any chervil with which to garnish, so I skipped that step. Here's the end result:

This is what summer tastes like, my friends. Light (but somehow also hearty) fish, fresh vegetables, a gorgeous and delicious onion, a delicious sauce. This rocked. The vegetables were done perfectly -- their texture perfectly complemented the texture of the halibut. I think what I liked most about it is that you taste every element of the dish. Nothing overpowers anything else. Nothing is overly sauced or infused or anything like that. It was so fresh-tasting and really clean and delicious. Like eating a plate of summer. And, it was so easy. Really. I'm definitely adding this to the repertoire for future dinner parties or lunches. I might not do every step the same way, but every element worked so well together that I won't stray too far from the original. I do know that I'll make this again in August when the corn comes in, and do this with fresh-shucked sweet corn instead of baby corn. Oooh! And maybe add a bit of fresh tarragon, since I think it might work, but not overpower the dish. All in all, we loved it. Absolutely delicious.

Wine Pairing: Joseph Drouhin, Meursault, 2003

Up Next: Salad of Petite Summer Tomatoes with Vine-Ripe Tomato Sorbet

Brands Used:
All-clad cookware
Halibut, onions, baby corn, and peppers from Whole Foods
365 organic butter and canola oil
Rue, chives, and thyme from Waterpenny Farms at Takoma Farmers Market
Fava beans from Balducci's

Music to Cook By: Bebel Gilberto; Assorted. I've had Gilberto on my iPod for awhile after hearing her on KCRW a year or two ago. Every now and then, once of her tunes pops up when I have my iPod on shuffle, so I decided to listen to more of what she's put out over the past few years. I'm trying to find a way to describe her music, and the only thing I can come up with is that it fits into the "world music" category, but it's not annoying like many artists who are also classified in that category. It's part Brazilian, part acoustic, part synth, part lounge-ish, kind of sway-ish. Again, I do not understand why Rolling Stone is not calling this instant to offer me their lead music reviewer job, with the great music descriptions I've been churning out lately.


spooneroonie said...

DG--looks wonderful! I've never had fava beans (or a nice Chianti, come to think of it) so I have to ask: are you absolutely sure they don't taste like lima beans? (Loved your description, by the way. Spot fucking on. Cardboarded wax, indeed.) They sure look like lima beans.

Rue. Hmmm. The only Rue I've ever heard of was McClanahan. Is rue an herb that is used a lot and I just don't know it because Sandra Lee hasn't mispronounced it on her "show"?

Anonymous said...

Looks scrumptious but ... it looks like you didn't peel the skin from the fava beans. And if you're doing it Keller-style, you peel them before you blanch them, which is a pain in the buttocks. Tsk tsk tsk! ;-)

Diner Girl said...

I should've said something in my original post, but I purposely did not peel the favas. I happen to like them unpeeled. When making a puree? Then I peel them. But for this dish, I decided not to. It gave the beans a little "give," if that makes sense. And I was in the mood for that texture.

Spoonie -- I am positive that favas don't taste like limas. I swear. And no, Rue is not used a whole lot in the kitchen. My neighbor bumped into me at the farmers' market and saw that I had purchased some rue to plant, and she giggled -- because she is a lactation specialist, and counsels new moms who are having trouble breastfeeding to drink a tea that has rue in it, so they produce more milk.

Mercedes said...

I was going to ask the same question about peeling the favas- I always peel before using. Sometimes in the Middle East they don't peel them until they're served, and then each person peels their own.

Also, just saw rue at the market, and had wondered about it.

I love following this site, keep up the good work!

FellowLimaBeanHater said...

Are fava beans anything like edamame in terms of texture? I personally loathe beans/legumes (lima, red, pinto, black, garbanzo, etc.). Something about the texture reminds me of putting softened marbles in my mouth. I hate garbanzos, but I love hummus. And I like edamame.

ann said...

someone has to stand up for lima beans! I love them! My personal bean hatred is reserved for, yes, fava beans. They will never enter my kitchen again in fresh form until I have a tribe of Bedouins to help me shell and peel them. Talk about a futsy legume!
That said, I would happily tackle this dish with limas standing in for the favas ;-)