Roasted Monkfish with Melted Leeks
Thomas Keller / Ad Hoc At Home
Four 8-ounce monkfish tail fillets
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
6 medium rosemary sprigs
Your favorite Romesco Sauce
Extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt or other flaky sea salt
Monkfish is a dense, meaty fish that cooks almost like a roast, so you can pan-roast it, like a pork loin. The herb-infused butter used to baste it flavors the fish and helps it both to cook evenly and to stay moist. As you baste, allow the butter to brown, adding more flavor to the monkfish. The final and important stage is resting the fish. Don't rest very delicate fish because they lose moisture quickly, but monkfish benefits from a rest. The monkfish is perfection with a piquant, acidic romesco sauce or an aioli and sweet leeks.
Remove the fish from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high to high heat just until it smokes. Season 2 of the fillets with salt, add to the pan presentation (or rounded) side down, and cook until the first side is pale golden, about 3 minutes. (The monkfish should not be crowded in the pan, so it is best to cook it in 2 batches.) Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan and let it melt, then add a second tablespoon (adding all of the butter at once could bring down the temperature in the pan too quickly and the butter will not brown as well). Once the butter has browned, tilt the pan and baste the fIsh as you continue to cook it until it is a rich golden brown on the first side, 1 to 2 more minutes. Turn the fish over, and cook, basting continuously with the butter, until it is a rich golden brown on the second side, 4 to 5 minutes. Add half of the garlic and rosemary to the pan and cook, continuing to baste as the aromatics flavor the butter, until the temperature in the center of the fish is 145°F, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the fish, with the garlic and rosemary. to a plate and keep in a warm spot. Clean the pan and cook the remaining fish in the same manner. Spread the sauce on a platter and arrange the leeks on top. Top with the fish, drizzle with olive oil and season with Maldon salt. Garnish with the rosemary and garlic.
SERVES 6 TO 8
Note about basting with butter and other fats: Basting, spooning hot flavorful fat over the food you are cooking, adds flavor and helps the food cook more quickly and evenly. When we're sautéing a piece of fish, we continue to cook the top of it after we turn it by basting it with that hot fat. We add aromatics such as rosemary or thyme and garlic to the fat to flavor it. We often use a finishing fat, usually butter, for more flavor. Very few foods that are cooked at high temperature are not improved by basting.
Melted Leek Rounds
8 large leeks (about 1 1//2 lbs)
3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock
2 sticks of butter
Kosher salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare and ice bath. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and line it with paper towels.
Meanwhile, cut off the dark green leaves of the leeks, leaving the pale green and tender white parts. Remove and discard the tough outer layer and cut the green sections into 1/2-inch rounds. Put the leeks into a large bowl of warm water and swish them gently to remove any dirt, being careful not to separate the rounds. Lift them from the water and repeat as needed.
Add 1/2 the leeks to the boiling water and blanch them for about 5 minutes, until tender. Remove the leeks with a skimmer and submerge them in the ice bath for no more that 15 seconds, just to cool quickly and preserve their color. Drain on paper towel lined rack and repeat with remaining leeks.
Bring stock to a simmer in medium sauté pan. Whisk in the butter one piece at a time to emulsify. Add leeks and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Use immediately or transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat gently over low heat. As they are reheated, the leeks should look creamy at all times. If the butter breaks, or the pan appears dry, stir in a bit of cold water to re-emulsify the butter.