One of the favorite dishes from this year’s 12 course Mother’s day dinner was the chorizo encrusted halibut. I constructed this recipe as a mixture of French and Spanish flavors and it ended up being a hit. One issue that I have with many fish dishes is that they end up being so light that they don’t really stick with you. This is fine for a tasting course at a 12 course dinner but isn’t so good as dinner. With the addition of beans in this dish, it can become more than a tasting course. Cannellini beans are light, nutty, and have a thin skin and tender, creamy center. I punched up the creaminess of the beans by adding cream. They are filling and unctuous.
I also use saffron in a simple emulsion that adds acidity and a richness. The sauce also helps balance the moisture of the dish as you eat it.as you eat it.
The crown of the dish is the chorizo. I found a great Spanish chorizo that I slice extra thin and layer on the top of the fish. It kind of gives the appearance of scales. Because I sliced it so thinly, it ends up crisping up like a potato chip. The flavor of the chorizo is heavy and spicy, contrasting well with the lightness of the fish and beans while blending wonderfully with the saffron emulsion.
Chorizo Encrusted Halibut
1 lb – Fresh halibut fillet
1 cup – Clarified butter (heat butter until melted in a steep, narrow glass, allow the solids to sink and pour off the clarified butter)
Juice of one lemon
4 oz – Spanish chorizo, sliced extra thin
3 cups – Cannellini beans, cooked (reserve 1 cup of liquid)
1/2 cup – Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup – carrot, finely minced
1/2 cup – shallots, finely minced
1/2 cup – Heavy whipping cream
1 cup – white wine
1 cup – chicken stock
1 stalk celery
1 bay leave
1 pinch saffron
salt and pepper to taste
Extra olive oil for cooking
In a large skillet add the wine and bring to a hard simmer. Using a lighter, light the fumes coming off of the wine (be careful, you can get a very large fire ball!). You can control the size of the flame by the amount of heat/how hard of a simmer that you have. The fire may go out a few times. Keep lighting until you can’t anymore and the lighter just blows out, at this point you’ve cooked out all of the alcohol. Add the broth, coarsely chopped carrot and celery and the bay leave. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.
Strain the broth and return it to the pan, check for salt (add more if needed). Add the saffron and return to a low simmer.
Heat a large heavy skillet on medium heat. Add a little olive oil and gently sauté the scallion and carrots until they are just clear (do not brown). Push the carrot/scallion mixture to one side and add the 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add the beans and sauté for several minutes, turning lightly. Try not to mash the beans as you stir them. Once the oil has absorbed into the beans add salt and pepper to taste. I find that you need to add more salt than you would think (at least 1-2 Tbsp.), but add and taste often. They should be a hint salty. Add the cream, stir well. The beans should be loose (not sticky). If they are sticky add some of the reserved cooking liquid from the beans.
To prepare the halibut, lightly rinse it in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Lightly salt on both sides. Layer the slices of chorizo in a scale pattern (or like shingles on a roof), where the slices overlap each other. Place in a heavy skillet.
Fill the bottom of the skillet with the butter and lemon juice. Place the fish in the oven under the broiler, and broil on high for several minutes or until the chorizo starts to brown and crisp up. Now low the heat to 250 degrees and poach for 10 minutes or until the center of the fish reaches 130 degrees and just begins to flake. Remove from the oven and let rest.
Finish the emulsion by placing the saffron broth in a blender. Add 3 Tbsp. of butter and blend until frothy and slightly emulsified (this can also be done in the pan with an emersion blender).
To plate, pour a 4 inch circle onto each plate, place a generous ladle full of beans in the center of the broth, and a piece of the halibut on top.
Garnish with thyme flowers.