Cook the Book: Braised Halibut with Asparagus and Wild Mushrooms

It is with some amusement that I note Eric Ripert’s description of Le Bernardin’s braised halibut dish as “the ultimate one-pot meal”. For most of us, one-pot meals are comforting, homey things, thrown together at a moment’s notice; they do not require compound butters, and they certainly do not call for slow-roasted tomato confit.

This is not to detract from the dish, which sounds absolutely stunning. With its accompaniments of pearl onions, wild mushrooms, bacon fat, and veal jus (a reinforced veal stock), the firm-textured halibut is treated almost like the beef in a boeuf bourguignon—only it’s braised for five minutes instead of three hours.

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Cook the Book: Braised Halibut with Asparagus and Wild Mushrooms

About This Recipe

Yield:4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 slice of bacon, cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 8 pearl onions
  • 4 ounces cèpes (porcini)
  • 4 ounces chanterelles
  • 4 ounces oyster mushrooms
  • 4 ounces morels
  • 2 tablespoons garlic butter (recipe follows)
  • Four 6-ounce halibut fillets
  • 2 cups veal jus (if this is not available, substitute reduced beef stock)
  • 8 pieces tomato confit (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon sliced chives, to garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 3 tomatoes, cored, peeled, and cut into ¾-inch-thick wedges
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons thyme leaves

Procedures

  1. 1

    Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until just barely tender. Drain and immediately plunge into an ice water bath to cool; drain and set aside.

  2. 2

    In a large casserole, cook bacon over medium heat until it has rendered its fat and is crisp. Drain on a paper towel.

  3. 3

    Pour off all the bacon fat from the casserole; melt the butter. Add the pearl onions and 1 tablespoon water and cook until tender.

  4. 4

    When the onions are tender, add all the mushrooms and the garlic butter, season with salt and white pepper, and cook until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes.

  5. 5

    Meanwhile, season the halibut on both sides with salt and white pepper. Add the veal jus to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the halibut, cover, and cook for 2 minutes.

  6. 6

    Add the asparagus, tomatoes, and bacon to the casserole. Bring back to a simmer and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, until a metal skewer can be easily inserted into the fish and, when left in for 5 seconds, feels just warm when touched to your lip.

  7. 7

    Garnish the fish with sliced chives and serve at the table from the casserole.

  8. 8

    Garlic Butter

  9. 9

    - makes about 1/2 pound -

  10. 10

    Wrap the parsley in a square of cheesecloth (or paper towel) and squeeze to remove excess moisture.

  11. 11

    Whip the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. (This can also be done by hand in a large mixing bowl.) Add the garlic, shallot, and parsley and mix well.

  12. 12

    Transfer the butter to a plastic container and store, tightly sealed, for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 1 month in the freezer.

  13. 13

    Tomato Confit

  14. 14

    - makes about 30 pieces -

  15. 15

    Preheat the oven to 200°F.

  16. 16

    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the tomatoes on the pan. Season the tomatoes with salt and white pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the tomatoes.

  17. 17

    Bake the tomatoes for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until they’ve collapsed and flattened a bit and have browned lightly. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

  18. 18

    Transfer the tomatoes to a container and store, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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