The Heart of New England
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
“Broiler Poached” Halibut
by Charlie Burke
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"Fresh halibut from New England waters is now available in local fish stores,
and this firm, mildly flavored fish lends itself to many preparations, including
our recipes for
roasted swordfish (substituting white for the red wine),
swordfish Provencal and even the Spanish preparation for hake with clams. In
some areas, swordfish is over-fished, as are cod and haddock, so consider
substituting halibut for these species."  

Swordfish and salmon, with their high fat content, stand up well to high
temperature broiling or roasting, but more care is required with the leaner
species such as halibut. I usually remove it from the heat under-done, cooking
it couple minutes fewer than required and leaving it covered with foil in the hot
roasting pan to reach proper temperature (it’s okay to make small incisions to
check, serving it when it is barely opaque in the center).

Halibut is most commonly sold as steaks; the bone which divides each steak
into four pieces helps maintain moisture during cooking. The excellent fish
department at the Hanover, N.H. Coop, however, featured thick, shiny fresh
halibut fillets this week, and I decided to combine the advantages of poaching
and broiling to preserve their delicate moisture and flavor. The liquid is a
simple blend of white wine, water and olive oil flavored with shallots, saffron
and a touch of tomato paste. Lemon juice and herbs would work as well, mixed
with the oil or butter and dry white wine.

Two servings:

1 or 2 thick fillets of fresh halibut, weighing 12 – 16 ounces
½ cup water or fish stock
½ cup dry white wine
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to brush on fillets
1 teaspoon tomato paste or juice of ½ a lemon
Pinch of saffron (optional)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In an ovenproof roasting dish just large enough to hold the fish, heat the olive
oil and sauté the shallots until softened but not browned. Add the wine, water
or fish stock, tomato paste and saffron. Lightly season the fish with salt and
pepper and brush with olive oil. If the fish is at room temperature, bring the
liquid to a boil, then place fish into liquid; if the fish has come from the
refrigerator, place fish into cold liquid and then bring to a boil. In either case,
the liquid should reach to half the thickness of the fillet; add extra wine and
water if necessary.

Place 3 -4 inches under the broiler and cook for 3 minutes less than the usual
time of 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Heating the liquids shortens the
cooking time, and the hot poaching liquid will continue to cook the fish. Serve
as the center becomes barely opaque; check liquid, adding salt and pepper to
taste, and moisten the fish with the cooking liquid.

This combination of poaching and broiling produces very moist and tender
results, and the entire dish can be prepared in less than fifteen minutes. This
was served with the end of last years’ peas, which had been vacuum sealed and
frozen, along with a mix of brown and wild rice. Use this as a master recipe,
substituting your favorite wine and flavoring to make the most of our fresh
local fish.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer'sMarket Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.
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...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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