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This dinner is rich without being too heavy, special without being too special. There's nothing fussy about the preparation -- you'll need a heavy saucepan and your oven cranked to 400° F. Halibut is a delicious fish that holds its form beautifully when cooked, but feel free to use any white fish you prefer -- cod would be tasty, or even monkfish. The shallots, roasted and caramelized with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar, become a star side dish, the kind you'll want to make for every dinner party from now until grilling season. Add a nice chunk of bread to the table if you'd like -- the juices left on your plate will be too good not to soak up.
1/2 teaspoon fresh dill
8 ounces escarole
1 small halibut filet
1/3 cup white wine
Zest from 1 orange
1 lemon wedge
1 pound shallots
1 tablespoon thyme, finely chopped, plus a few whole sprigs
Note: Double (or triple) the halibut ingredients if you plan on cooking for more than 1 person.
We're assuming you have some butter, 1 clove garlic, olive oil, brown sugar, sherry, and balsamic vinegar. If not, add those to your shopping list, too.
1. Heat oven to 400° F. Using a fork, combine 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon fresh dill in a small bowl.
2. For the shallots: Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an ovenproof skillet. (Alternatively, you can brown the shallots in whatever pan you like, and then transfer them into a baking dish).
3. Add 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar, mix to combine, then add shallots, cut-side down if you've halved any. Brown over medium heat for 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through, or as soon as a beautiful brown crust has developed on the first side.
4. Take the pan off of the heat, and add everything else -- salt, thyme, 2 tablespoons sherry, and 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons vinegar -- then shake the pan a bit, and then cover with foil and roast in the oven until completely cooked through. Depending on the size of your shallots, this can take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes -- test with a knife every 5 minutes beginning at the 25-minute mark.
5. While the shallots roast, rinse
the escarole, shake off excess water, and discard the darkest, outermost leaves (these tend to be the most bitter). Tear the escarole into two-inch pieces.
6. Finely mince 1 clove of garlic and 1 shallot. Season the halibut filet with salt and pepper on both sides. Preheat a small Dutch oven, or a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, over medium high heat. Sweat garlic and shallots in the olive oil for one minute.
7. Toss in escarole and orange zest with the garlic and shallots. Add wine and quickly place halibut, skin side down, on the bed of greens. Top the fillet with the dill butter and cover. Reduce heat to medium and allow fish to steam for approximately 12 minutes (8 minutes per inch of thickness).
8. When the fish is thoroughly cooked (opaque and flaky), place the wilted greens in the center of your serving plate and top with the halibut filet. Garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, and serve alongside your warm roasted shallots.