Tuesday, November 15

Monkfish & Serrano, Spelt Bourguignion, Chicory Gratin

I've been meaning to make Monkfish bourguignion for some time now but have yet to get round to it. Being a very meaty fish, I feel you can expose monkfish to flavour combinations that are not classically used with fish - I tend to treat it like chicken. This dish is a little complicated to make, a bit restauranty. That said, the work is all in the prep - service is easy.....so if you fancy pushing out the boat, it would be great dinner party fare. Otherwise why not take elements of the dish like the gratin or spelt and use in other ways. For 4:

Monkfish - 2 tails, each weighing 400g, skinned, filleted and membranes removed (ask your fishmonger)
Serrano ham - 8 thin slices
Spelt grain - 200g
Chicken stock - 500ml (a cube is ok)
Beef stock - 1litre, (it has to be home made - sorry!)
Red wine - 250ml
Finely diced leek, carrot, onion and celery - about 100g in total
Baby shallots (peeled) or frozen silver skin onions - 100g
Pancetta lardons - 50g
Button mushrooms - 100g, quartered
Kale - 4 large handfuls once removed from the stalks
Chicory - 2 large heads, outer leaves removed and quartered
Mature cheddar - 150g
Dijon mustard - 1 tbsp
Butter - 50g
Milk - 500ml
Plain Flour - 1 heaped tbsp
Serrano ham ends - 50g, chopped very finely (if you can't get, use 50g sliced serrano chopped)

For the gratin: bring your milk to the boil with the trimmings from finely chopping up your leek, celery, and onion. Set aside and allow the flavours to infuse. In a lidded pan, gently braise the chicory with half the chicken stock until soft. Season well, drain reserving the stock and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan, add the mustard and flour and mix until well combined. Strain the milk then tip half into the flour mix and whisk over the heat until all the lumps are out. Add the rest of the milk and bring to the boil whisking all the time. The sauce should now be smooth. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 mins to cook out the flour. Take off the heat and toss in the cheese and chopped serrano ham. Season well and stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce then set aside. Place the chicory into 4 small, snug fitting oven proof dishes and top liberally with the cheese sauce - use one large dish if you wish.

For the spelt: fry the lardons over a medium heat until they start to go golden and the fat has rendered out. Tip into a sieve to drain, then tip the oil back in the pan and hard fry the onions until they colour and are soft. Tip into the sieve, oil back in the pan again and now fry the mushrooms until coloured. Into the sieve for the last time and discard the oil. Using the last of the chicken stock and the leftover stock from braising the chicory, gently simmer the spelt and the finely chopped onion, leek, carrot and celery until soft and dryish (like risotto). Season lightly. Now you need to make a cheats red wine jus - reduce the beef stock and wine over a high heat skimming any scum until you have a syrupy reduction similar in consistency to  warm honey - set aside.

For the monkfish: place one fillet on top of the other, head to tail. Spread the serrano ham slices out on a chopping board. Season the monkfish and then tightly roll up in the ham. Ok....thats your prep finished....phew!   You can do all this a day in advance by the way.

To cook: Put the gratin in a hot oven - 220c for 20 mins until bubbling and golden. After the gratin has been in the oven for 10 minutes, heat a frying pan over a medium high heat and start to fry the monkfish in a little oil. When one side of the ham starts to crisp, quarter turn and put in the oven. Warm the spelt gently with the red wine jus, simmer until the spelt is glazed and the sauce is thick and coating.  Turn your fish a quarter turn and then again in another 2 mins to ensure the ham is crisp and golden all over. Cooking time depends on the thickness of your fish but 8 to 12 mins should be plenty. You can always cut the fish in half to check, if underdone put back in the oven for a few minutes more. Blanch your kale for 3 mins in salted water and drain.

To plate, pile kale and spelt on each plate. Give each person a small gratin or serve each from a large bowl. Cut the monkish into 8 or 12 slices and divide between plates. Drizzle any remaining pan juices from the spelt over the plate and fish. 

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