Ahh, spring. A season filled with color, warmth and promise. And, happily, fresh produce, bright flowers, and yes, wild halibut!
And all of that delicious halibut came in handy last weekend when S was trying to decide what to make for dinner (I think he was trying to get in as much cooking as he could before going out of town for the week). After the usual review of our cookbook collection, he settled on a recipe from a lovely book called Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition, by Barbara Lynch. The original recipe called for cod, but when we hit the grocery store the freshest fish there was halibut. No problem — halibut is a great substitute, and the wild caught halibut we have been getting here lately is a delicious, tender fish.
Unleashing the magic of both the new stove-top and the new broiler, S produced a fantastic dish of halibut with clam and chorizo ragout. The recipe looks a little complicated, but (according to S) if you take it one step at a time it’s not hard at all. And it is surely worth the effort.
Pan-Fried Halibut with Chorizo and Clam Ragout
(Adapted from Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition, by Barbara Lynch)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ cup dry white wine
2 fresh thyme sprigs
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds Manila (or other small) clams (well scrubbed)
¼ pound chicken chorizo
2 large roasted red peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips
2/3 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 skinless halibut fillets, each abut 6 ounces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a deep heavy skillet heat about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not colored, about 1 minute. Add the wine, thyme, half of the parsley, the red pepper flakes, and the clams. Stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high, cover the pan and let the clams steam open, 5 to 7 minutes. With a large slotted spoon transfer the open clams to a bowl. Discard any unopened clams. Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.
Wipe the pan and return it to medium heat. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the chorizo until it browns and begins to render its fat. Add roasted red peppers and continue to sauté for about five minutes. Pour reserved clam juice over the sausage and peppers leaving any sediment behind. Cook until most of the juice has evaporated. Keep the ragout warm as you prepare the fish.
Spread the flour on a flat plate. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Season the halibut fillets with salt and pepper, lightly dredge them in flour and gently shake off any excess. Add the fillets to the heated pan and cook, without moving them, until they are deeply golden on one side, about 4 minutes. Flip the fish over and cook the other side until golden brown, another 4 minutes.
Pour ragout into the pan with the fish. Add remaining parsley. Heat gently to warm. Serve on deep plates, placing one fillet and a generous serving of ragout on each plate.