Today’s post is about a recipe that I found randomly a few years ago. It was quoted from a book The New Spanish Table by Anya Von Bremsen. While I don’t own this particular book, I do own another volume by the same author, which I absolutely adore. It’s called Please To The Table, and it’s a nice collection of popular recipes of the former Soviet territories.
The book I own is really well done, so I am not at all surprised that this Spanish, more specifically Mallorcan, recipe turned out so well on the very first try: Anya Von Bremsen is notorious for her attention to detail and a wonderful talent of adaptation — adjusting the recipe to work well with ingredients that can be found locally.
I have made this dish more than enough times to assure you that there is nothing you can do to ruin it. I substituted swiss chard with spinach one time, with kale another time, and it turned out very well on every occasion. The only recommendation I can make, based on the experience — use grouper fillets, not steaks. Digging the bones out, however large, isn’t at all pleasant when you have rich vegetable stew surround the fish. It turns into quite a messy affair. Substituting fillets for steaks gets rid of the problem altogether.
Follow the instructions, take your time and don’t cut corners. Every step is there for a reason. And, of course, enjoy!
Mallorcan Braised Grouper
Quoted from the book The New Spanish Table by Anya Von Bremsen.
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over the fish
- 1 medium-size white onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 5 medium-size garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 teaspoons sweet (not smoked) paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 roastedred bell peppers, cut into strips
- 2 roastedyellow bell peppers, cut into strips
- 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 2-1/2 cups chopped swiss chard (leaves only)
- 1 medium-size bunch flat-leaf parsley (leaves only), chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup dried currants [ they are really tiny raisins, not actual currants – Eat Already! ]
- 4 thick grouper steaks (about 2 pounds total; see Note below)
- coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- all-purpose flour, for dusting the fish
- 4 large yukon gold potatoes (about 2 pounds total), boiled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft but not browned, about 7 minutes.
Add the paprika and red pepper flakes and stir for a few seconds. Add the roasted red and yellow peppers and the tomatoes, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the tomatoes begin to release their juice, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the chard and parsley and cook, stirring, just until they wilt.
Add the bay leaf, wine, and currants and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables are softened and the flavors blended, 5 to 7 minutes.
The vegetable mixture can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, covered, for 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Rub the fish steaks generously with salt and black pepper.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, Dust the fish lightly with flour, add it to the skillet, and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. Transfer the fish steaks to a plate.
Set out an earthenware casserole or a deep ceramic or glass baking dish in which the fish steaks will fit snugly in a single layer. Arrange the potato slices in the casserole in one layer, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle salt on the potatoes, then arrange the fish on top.
Remove the bay leaf from the vegetable mixture and discard it. Season the vegetable mixture with salt to taste, then spoon it evenly over the fish, along with its pan juices. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle with pine nuts.
Bake the fish steaks until they are very tender, 45 to 50 minutes depending on their thickness. Let the fish and vegetables cool for about 10 minutes, then serve straight from the casserole.
NOTE: If grouper is unavailable, you can substitute another firm saltwater fish, such as monkfish, mahimahi, or halibut. If you want to use fillets, they need to be thick; reduce the baking time by about 15 minutes.