You can't get much simpler than fish en papillote: a fillet with a few choice veggies or flavorings wrapped in parchment (or sometimes foil) and baked. Et voila: luscious, flavorful fish, and a lovely presentation, to boot. In The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell offer a clever, edible alternative to wrapping in parchment: tender lettuce leaves swaddle a fillet of bass topped with a dollop of bright, herbaceous compound butter. Like parchment, the lettuce hold the moisture in the fish while it steams in a bath of white wine. The lemony, parsley-and-dill-infused butter melts into and around the fish, mingling with the wine to create an effortless pan sauce.
Why I picked this recipe: It seemed irresistibly fresh, light, summery, and smart.
What worked: The fish is delicious. It soaks up flavor from the wine below and the butter above, and the lettuce—with the help of foil over the baking dish—does serve to keep it perfectly moist. (While my leaves were not large enough to fully envelop the fillets, my efforts at patchwork were apparently sufficient.)
What didn't: As the lettuce wilts, it gets a bit tough and turns a not-super-appealing army green color. I liked it, nonetheless, but the presentation wasn't as glamorous as I'd hoped. Also, though the compound butter is nicely salty, I found a sprinkle of Maldon's was necessary to balance the acidity of the wine.
Suggested tweaks: We ate this with brown rice, and I definitely recommend having rice or crusty bread on hand to sop up the wonderful broth. And the compound butter is fantastic; double it if you want some leftover to toss with steamed veggies or pasta (you will).
Thanks to our friends at Rodale, we have 5 copies of The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook to give away this week.
Reprinted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell. Copyright (c) 2014 by Beekman 1802, LLC. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.