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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Think Like A Chef - Braised Haddock

The first step in braising haddock is to make the lemon rosemary vinaigrette.  The ingredients are pretty simple - just white vinegar, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  The main thing to remember when making vinaigrette is to whisk and drizzle in the EVOO slowly, so it doesn’t break.  Simple.

Step two was to prepare the Brussels sprouts.  I had a choice here.  I could save myself a bit of time and get the Brussels sprouts that were already in a bag, or I could take them off of this…branch?  I went with the branch.  First, the bagged Brussels sprouts really wouldn’t save me that much time, and quite frankly, the ones on the branch looked a heck of a lot fresher.

Isn't this cool?

I went with the Brussels sprouts because I had only had them once before, and didn’t like them, so I wanted to see if I could improve on what I had eaten.  Also, they are a fall / winter vegetable, so I thought it would be a good fit.  And, aside from all that, they are pretty healthy.  Low calorie, good amount of fiber, and they offer protection against prostate, colon, and endometrial cancers.  You can read about them on the “Nutrition and You” website here.

After taking them off the branch, you need to peal the outer leaves until the lighter green leaves appear.  Then, simply put some extra virgin olive oil on them, along with some Kosher salt and fresh pepper, and roast them in a 400 degree oven.  One note here:  Last time I roasted vegetables, you may remember I felt I used too much oil, because they came out greasy.  This time I only used 1½ tablespoons and it was the perfect amount.  I actually combined two recipes for this: a Paula Dean recipe and an Ina Garten recipe.

Now, as for the fish, the first step was roasting a red bell pepper, so I put it on the burner until the skin had started to burn and then I put it into a zip top bag, so the skin would loosen.  Then I took the skin off, cut off the top, took out the seeds, and then cut the pepper into strips.
Next, I peeled a lemon.  First time I ever did that, and it came out pretty good.  Then I cut the lemon into segments.

Now, as for the actual cooking, first I had to get the skin on the fish crispy, so I cooked it in a tablespoon of EVOO over medium heat.  3½ minutes later, the fish gave itself up and I took it out of the pan.  Quite frankly, I still don’t have the crispy skin thing right.  I need to keep working on that.

Then, I took the fish out, wiped the pan out, and let it cool slightly.  Then, in went the bell pepper and the lemon segments, and the lemon-rosemary vinaigrette, but just enough to come up the sides of the pepper strips.  Then I nestled the fish into the vinaigrette and brought the heat up to a simmer.  All the while, I was also turning the Brussels sprouts.

Two problems: First, the skin is not crispy. Second, corn starch got into the picture.

Time to eat.  First, I took out the Brussels sprouts and put them in a bowl.  They were a bit browner than I would have liked, but I looked at some videos of roasting Brussels sprouts on YouTube, and for the most part, they were brown and not green.  Not as attractive as I had hoped...I roasted them for 35 minutes…I think 30 would have been fine. Once in the bowl, I sprinkled some chopped lemon zest on them.

I plated the fish…one piece flat and then the second piece leaning up against it, and put the Brussels sprouts next to them.  I then poured a bit of the cooked vinaigrette, the lemon segments, and the bell pepper strips onto the fish.

How did everything taste?  Well, the fish was flakey and moist, but still was ever so slightly firm.  Definitely a nice lemony flavor, with just a little contrast from the bell pepper.  Cathy ate every bite, so I consider that a success.

As for the Brussels sprouts, I liked them.  They were a bit crunchy on the outside, and soft, but not mushy on the inside, with a slight lemon taste that came from the vinaigrette and the lemon zest.  Cathy however, was not a fan.  I would eat them again, but I don’t think I would go out of my way to eat them.  Still, I’m glad I tried them.

This meal was approximately 351 calories, 14.3 grams of fat of which all but 3 grams were from the EVOO, so it was good fat.


  1. I was waiting to see what happened with this adventure! Looks like an overall good result, no? The whole browning thing is difficult with fish due to it's natural moisture content---which is why fish often lends itself better to poaching as opposed to braising. I would bet if you tried this same dish with poaching, your fish will be more delicate. Go back to braising and try it with a nice piece of beef or pork. The browning with be excellent, and the connective tissue will melt down in the braise and provide you with a real experience--and taste--in braising.
    Ina is a self-taught WONDERFUL chef...if it's a recipe of hers, it's a winner. Now SHE thinks like a chef! Paula Dean? Not so much. She does bacon cheeseburgers between two krispy kreme donuts. My advice: do what Ina does, not what Paula does. Your plating on this looks terrific! Very well laid out, but not "forced". Two thumbs up! Keep on thinking like a chef, and Keep on cooking!

    1. Thanks for the comments. In regards to the Ina / Paula thing. I knew all along that I wanted to roast the Brussels Sprouts. I was unsure how to give it the lemon flavor. Do I mostly roast it and then finish it with the fish, do I just squeeze some lemon juice on it and so on. The only recipe on Food was the Paula Dean recipe. She suggested roasting for only 18 minutes as I recall, which seemed a short period of time, so then I looked on YouTube on how to roast the Brussels Sprouts and there was Ina. But yes, I agree, I am not a big Paula Dean fan, though I will say, some people really seem to adore her.

    2. Yeah..Paula Deen has a following---all ready to succumb to diabetes! Only a small portion of "TV chefs" are worth admiring. The great thing about Colicchio (and others) is that he is a chef FIRST....then a celebrity. This is true of the better ones.

      Another nice idea for roasting Brussels sprouts is to put some dried cranberries and chopped nuts (pecans and walnuts work best) into the roasting pan for the last 5 minutes of the roasting. It provides some great taste, texture, and color. I'm enjoying following your adventures in the kitchen! Remember: Taste, texture, color, fragrance...bring it all together! Keep on cooking!

  2. ...remember: Think like a chef---not a TV "chef"! :)
    Keep on cooking!