Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grilled Halibut with Tomato Butter

My normal procedure for gathering information from food magazines goes like this: 1. read magazine, 2. place magazine in stack with others that have been read, 3. eventually, flip though all those read magazines and cut out recipes and photos I want to keep, 4. file those pages and use some sooner than others. However, once in awhile, something catches my eye, and I have to try it immediately. That was the case with this grilled halibut dish from April’s Food and Wine. I didn’t even get to step two. I saw this and made a shopping list. It’s from an article about food and wine pairings suggested by a few different sommeliers. This dish is from Caroline Styne of Lucques and AOC, and a pinot noir was recommended for it.

Tomatoes cooked in butter and spooned over grilled fish was all I really needed to know to want this for dinner. But, as I read through the recipe, I began to wonder how much I would love it with tarragon rubbed onto the fish and also used in the sauce. It’s not that I dislike tarragon, but I wasn’t sure I would love a double-dose of it. I’ve mentioned before that I have Mexican mint marigold growing in my yard, and that is our Texas substitution for fresh tarragon. The plants die back to the ground at the end of winter and then begin new growth in early spring. They’re about halfway back to their normal height now. So, I used chopped Mex. mint marigold instead of tarragon, and it has the same anise flavor. The halibut fillets were rubbed with a combination of chopped parsley, the M.m.m., and lemon zest, and they were left in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Then, they were grilled outside over charcoal while the sauce was made. Butter was melted in a small skillet, whole M.m.m. leaves were added and cooked until fragrant, and then grape tomatoes joined this mixture. It was left to cook over low heat until the tomatoes burst to release delicious juices into the browned butter.

I can say with certainty that the flavors of this dish were as good as I’d imagined when I first saw it in the magazine. The two uses of tarragon or M.m.m. worked fine. The anise was subtle and married nicely with the freshness of the tomatoes and richness of the browned butter. The herb rub on the halibut became a very good accent to the flavor of the fish itself and the smoke from the grill. I made the smashed fingerlings mentioned in the article as well, and they were great on the side. Also great was the light, California pinot noir with nice, balanced fruit whose name I can’t remember because we ended up with a different wine than the one from the article and I failed to write it down. The simple, flavorful sauce could be used on ravioli or gnocchi, and the tarragon could be replaced with thyme for variation. Or, I could happily sit down to a plate of burst-open tiny tomatoes in herbed browned butter and a hunk of bread.


27 comments:

  1. The tarragon is an interesting flavor for fish that we've never had. You had a hankering though. Good thing you followed your instinct to make this dish right away.

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  2. At least you file your recipes! I do all of the above, but they often end up in a big pile that I have to sort through in order to find anything.
    I love how simple this dish is. And how good for you it is, too.

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  3. mmmm. that tomato butter sounds delicious! i don't cook with tarragon much, but i'll give it a try!

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  4. you follow more diligence than I would - I only have to hear butter and I am all over it - this looks nice and tasty but I too question the tarragon - it isnt overbearing?

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  5. The tomato butter is divine! And good all using your marigold. It looks real delicious!

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  6. Halibut definitely my favorite fish. and I know what you mean about piling up food magazines....so many recipes, so little time!

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  7. I'm a big tarragon fan -- and could well handle a double dose of it! This looks really rich and full-bodied -- halibut is one of my favorite fish. Regarding the recipes, I'm wondering -- how do you file them? Mine are pretty much in a messy pile on my desk. I have never figured out how to organize them once I've removed them from the magazine and would love to know your method.

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  8. Becky: At the risk of exposing how anal I am, I'll explain my filing system. I have a file organizer from the Container Store which helps separate the recipes into categories. I group them by cocktail, hors d'oeuvres, salad, soup, vegetable or side, main course, full menu (usually holiday), dessert, and breakfast. Each category gets a slot of its own. And, of course, there's the pile of recipes on the counter which are ones I haven't filed because I'm sure I'm going to try them in the next week or two. They eventually get filed after several weeks.

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  9. I need to discover tarragon too. It sounds like it went very well with the strong flavors of the halibut and roasted tomatoes!

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  10. Whoops, I mean "busted" tomatoes. A comment slip up on my part!

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  11. I have a small carton of tomatoes - I think I'll make your tomato butter with crusty bread for lunch.

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  12. The tomato butter sounds great and I do love using tarragon!

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  13. i have to say, my favorite part of all (aside from the obvious--the presence of butter) is the shriveled and succulent tomatoes. they look perfectly prepared. :)

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  14. At the risk of jumping off topic a bit, I love your explanation of your filing system here in the comments.

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  15. I admit that I have never been a fan of fish, but I do need to eat healthy sometimes, so thank you for this recipe,

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  16. I'm not a good cook but i think you're making everything easy. This one looks delicious.

    fueling your blog.

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  17. Wow, what a fancy dish, but not fancy to make.

    I am a magazine-a-holic, and I have a hard time throwing them out too! I love going back to old issues and finding new inspiration. With Cook's Illustrated I have made things the same day I read them which is fantastic to try a recipe immediately!

    Your pictures turned out great!

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  18. A light and flavorful dish! Perfect!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  19. This looks absolutely delicious! It's scary but that's kind of the way my wine notes and recipe filing system is too. I'm right there with you in the anal retentive category.

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  20. Oh I love Halibut, I also like to cook it simple like this. Cherry tomatoes are my favorite too.

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  21. I love that idea of the butter & tomato! So flavorful.. did i hear texas.. u have someone else living in texas:-D

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  22. The tomatoes cooked in butter is simply wonderful! I usually chop them to cook down but having retained their shape here adds such a nice dimension! The herb crusted halibut sounds equally delicious. Next weekend, we'll be ready to plant our herb garden for the season - I wonder if I'd be able to find Mexican mint marigold?

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  23. I have been looking for something to use my tomato honey with, and you have me thinking...I can taste this right now, and I love have grape tomatoes just 'POP' when they cook, and love the texture with the fish and tarragon! Love it...

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  24. This dish really reminds me of spring. The colours are beautiful.

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  25. Waw,....Lisa!! I love it! I love halibut in every way!! So delicious!

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  26. My sister Kathy lives in the halibut capital - Homer, Alaska - and I usually have to wait for a visit from her to get halibut........around here it's like trying to get Maine lobster there! I love the recipe, and am thinking about what fish I can adapt it to.....wish I had some of your marigold.
    YUM!

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  27. I loved your description on dealing with the magazines because I am in the same boat, except now I have some serious stacks that its time to do something with - ah to have an infinite amount of space for all the cook books and magazines.

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