Saturday, August 18, 2007

Halibut Osso Buco. Yes, you read that right!

You know Osso Buco, don't you? Traditionally made with veal shanks, Osso Buco is one of those standbys from nearly every upscale Italian, sometimes even French, restaurants and home kitchens. But if your meat market is like MY meat market, veal shanks are dear. Very dear. So when I saw this recipe in 2001 for halibut prepared osso buco style, it sounded wonderful. I promptly made the dish and we have enjoyed it several times since. You just have to visualize the above halibut steak resting on a bed of herbed and garlic mashed potatoes.

If there's a down side to this, it's that a bit of the preparation must be done at the last minute. And there's a modicum of chopping and mincing to be done. You can make the mashed potatoes an hour or so ahead. You must make the pan sauce ahead - the bed the halibut rests in while it bakes. But, at the last minute you have to saute the fish and bake for 10-15 minutes before plating this up. And then there's the gremolata, an essential - absolutely essential garnish for osso buco - can be made a few hours ahead too. What's gremolata, you ask? Simple: lemon zest, parsley and garlic. Mix them together and let them sit just a bit to meld their flavors before garnishing the fish with it.

There's only one caution: be sure to use low-sodium broth because the broth mixture is reduced (boiled down to a fraction of its original volume) and salted broth would concentrate that salt. Not good - unless you use low sodium. But this is a wonderfully aromatic dish, and anything placed atop a mound of garlic mashed potatoes is bound to be delicious.

Osso Buco-Style Halibut and Whipped Potatoes with Herbs
Recipe: Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit, 2001
Servings: 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion -- chopped
1/2 cup carrot -- chopped
3/4 cup celery -- chopped
2 whole garlic cloves -- minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup white wine
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatoes -- in puree
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup lemongrass -- chopped
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 whole bay leaf
2 pounds halibut fillets
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds potatoes -- Yukon Gold preferred
5 whole garlic cloves
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mixed herbs -- fresh, chopped (your choice)
1 whole lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley -- minced
3 whole garlic cloves -- minced
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic; sauté until brown, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes. Add white wine and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, orange juice, lemongrass, soy sauce, thyme and bay leaf, and simmer until mixture is reduced to 3 cups, about 50 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
2. Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle halibut with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add fish to skillet and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer fish to plate. Pour off oil from skillet. Reduce heat to low. Add balsamic vinegar to skillet; simmer 1 minute. Add sauce. Whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce into 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Place fish atop sauce in dish. Bake until fish is opaque in center, about 10 minutes.
3. Divide potatoes among 6 plates. Top potatoes with fish and sauce. Sprinkle with Gremolata and serve immediately.
4. POTATOES: Cook potatoes and garlic in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Return potatoes and garlic to pot. Using handheld electric mixer, beat potato mixture at low speed until smooth. Add butter; beat until melted and smooth. Increase speed and whip potatoes just until light and fluffy. Stir in herbs. Season with salt and pepper; serve.
5. GREMOLATA: Using vegetable peeler, remove peel in long strips from lemon. Mince lemon peel. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in parsley and garlic. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Serving Ideas : This could be almost a complete meal, but it's also nice served with a few asparagus spears, or steamed broccoli on the side. A lightly dressed green salad is a nice accompaniment.
NOTES : This recipe appeared in the April 2001 Bon Appetit magazine. I lightened it up just a little bit, although it was a fairly low-calorie and low-fat dish to begin with. Be sure to use the low-salt ingredients mentioned. If you don't have them, don't add any additional salt as the recipe mentions.
Per Serving: 444 Calories; 11g Fat (22.4% calories from fat); 45g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 55mg Cholesterol; 961mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 5 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 1/2 Fat.
To view a printable recipe, click on title at top.

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