Monday, January 21, 2008

Cuisine Soignee, or Cooking With Care

Not so much, but naming what's on the plate would be a bit long for the title line. Arctic Char with Barley/Shiitake Risotto and Rosemary Infused Blood Orange Beurre Blanc. "Risotto" and "Beurre Blanc," however, may be misnomers. There's no rice in the risotto, and this beurre blanc doesn't contain any shallots, nor is it blanc, obviously. But regardless of the looseness of the aforementioned culinary terms, the meal was good, and the components will show up again in my future meals.

A few things before the recipe. First, Arctic Char is proof that not all farmed fish are bad--the folks at Monterey Bay approve. This piece came from my standard fish monger, at Kate's Fish in the Westside Market. Second, the idea for the barley risotto came from here. Check out the second video. And due to the food co-op, there's no shortage of grains around here. Third, the shiitakes. They're from these fine folks--Killbuck Valley Mushrooms--who make the weekly trek to sell their wares at the Indoor Winter Market. That covers that. Here's the recipe:

Barley/Shiitake Risotto
-Shiitake caps, big dice
-Shallots, dice
-Olive Oil
-Stock, kept near a boil (I used duck, but any would do)
-Salt and Pepper
-Chives, little batons (optional--I wouldn't have used them if they weren't laying around)
-White wine
- Slowly saute shiitakes in butter
- As the shiitakes are cooking, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil
- When shiitakes are to your liking set them aside
- Sweat shallots in butter
- When shallots are sweated, add barley and stir well
- Add some white wine to the shallots and barley and cook it down
- Now add stock to the mixture and cook like you would any risotto (here's my post on the subject)
- When it's close to where you want it add mushrooms and stop adding liquid
- Once it's how you're going to serve it, season with salt and pepper and stir in the chives (I didn't add additional butter because the stock I used wasn't skimmed, so there was plenty of fat in there. No cheese because I'm generally not a cheese with fish kind of person.)

Arctic Char
- Arctic Char, fillet
- Butter
- Oil, for high heat
- Salt and pepper
- I rinsed and dried the fillet--some people skip this step
- Salt and pepper the fillet, both sides
- Heat up a pan (I used nonstick) with some butter and oil
- Once the pan and fats are hot, add fish flesh side down
- When the flesh side has some color, flip the fish
- Cook on the skin side until cooked through (The skin should get crispy.)

Rosemary Infused Blood Orange Beurre Blanc
- Blood Orange, juice (Typing this now I kind of wish I used just a bit of the zest too.)
- White Wine
- Rosemary, small sprig
- Butter, pieces (for a small amount of sauce I used around a quarter stick of butter cut in four or five pieces)
- Salt and pepper
- Add equal parts juice and white wine to a small sauce pan (a few tbs of each) with the Rosemary sprig (traditionally minced shallots would be included here)
- Reduce the juice and wine over pretty high heat (with the sprig in there) until there's just a little left and it's syrupy
- Remove Rosemary sprig and discard
- Lower heat as much as possible and whisk in butter pieces one at a time, waiting for one piece to incorporate before adding the next
- Once all the butter is incorporated season with salt and pepper
- If the sauce is too thick for your liking thin with a drop of water
- To hold the sauce put it on a burner that's as low as possible, whisking occasionally
- If you're really worried about the sauce separating add a small drop of cream when the juice and wine are reducing to stabilize the sauce, but with so little butter (comparatively) this sauce is pretty sturdy

This is a nice meal on a cold winter day. The mushrooms go very well with the barley, and the somewhat rich and bright sauce complements the char well. The sauce looks a bit cornstartchy in the picture--I think it's the lighting--but the color was very nice.

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