Friday, March 16, 2012

Monkfish à l'Américaine – Essential Pepin

Jacques Pepin is probably the best known French chef in America. Through his popular cooking programs on public television and his many cookbooks, he’s been teaching us French cooking for, believe it or not, six decades. His latest cookbook, Essential Pepin, contains seven hundred of his favorite recipes from his career in cooking.

Often when someone writes a big “all my favorite recipes” kind of book, it includes a lot of recipes from previous books. I have a lot of Jacques Pepin’s cookbooks and, as much as I love Jacques, I wasn’t certain I really wanted another one. However, flipping through Essential Pepin was enough to convince me that this one is by far his best and contains a lot of new recipes plus some old favorites updated.

When I get a new cookbook, I grab a pen and a piece of paper and make notes on recipes to try. So far I’ve come up with at least thirty five. Jacques has a knack for finding the shortest route to flavor without complicated techniques. This recipe for Monkfish à l'Américaine stew is a perfect example. Monkfish can be tough if not cooked properly, but here Jacques gently simmers it in a flavorful tomato based broth scented with fennel seeds and cognac and finishes it with French tarragon. French cooking has never been easier or tasted so good.

Is Essential Pepin essential?  Absolutely! 

Monkfish à l'Américaine
Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin – serves 4

About 2 pounds monkfish, preferably large fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, cut into ½” pieces (1 cup)
1 carrot, peeled and cut into ½” pieces (1/2 cup)
1 small leek, trimmed, leaving some green, split, washed and cut into ½” pieces (1 cup)
1 stalk of celery, cut into ½” pieces (1/3 cup)
1 ¼ cups chopped tomato
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ cup fruity white wine
1 tablespoon Armagnac or cognac
1 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Cut monkfish into twelve pieces. Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, carrot, leek, and celery and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add tomato, tomato paste, garlic, herbs de Provence, salt, cayenne, fennel seeds, wine, brandy, and water, bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add fish, cover, and simmer gently over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the pieces of fish from the saucepan and set aside on a platter. Add the butter to the mixture in the pan and, using a hand blender, emulsify the vegetables into a fine puree. You can also leave the sauce chunky if you prefer. Add the fish back into the sauce, sprinkle with the tarragon, and bring to a boil to heat through. Serve with rice.

This will be linked to Food Friday at Designs by Gollum, Miz Helen’s Country Cooking Full Plate Thursday, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable. When you get a chance, please stop by and welcome back Yvonne at Stone Gable. She took a break for a while and our foodie blogging community has missed her greatly.


  1. Oh, what a gorgeous dish! Really tasty looking. A great way of serving fish.



  2. That recipe looks full of flavor. I LOVE your presentation...and beautiful photos as always.
    Happy weekend Sam.

  3. Essential Pepin is on PBS here Saturdays. I like his casual approach to dishes. Each one I've tried has turned out splendidly. The monk fish dish is beautiful and looks delicious. I've never prepared the fish. I'm inspired to do so the next time it appears in the market.


  4. We have always loved Jacques and try not to miss his show on TV. Not only do we love his cooking, he is so likable. The most fun was watching him and Julia cook together. They always agreed to disagree and it was so funny. Susan

  5. Beautiful dish. Very French with an American twist.

    I have not seen Pepin on PBS in quite a few years but I enjoyed when he cooked with his daughter,


  6. Sam - I made a similar dish a few weeks ago (although I did not post it). The entire family loved how delicate and flavorful it was. This is a gorgeous meal. Will check out this cookbook when I get a chance. The idea of 700 recipes is very alluring.

  7. I love Jacques, I especially enjoyed it when he and Julia used to cook together, they were hysterical!

    This dish looks delicious, and one that I'll try for certain, I'll probably even go buy this cook book, I only have a couple of his.

    Between your post and my post we could open a "swanky" seafood restaurant! LOL!!!

    Have a great weekend & Happy St. Paddy's Day!

  8. A very delicious dish and well presented , love all the flavor added to it!Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hi Sam, thanks for stopping by today! I also had a strange blog thing happen to day . . . my blog disappeared! Can you say heart attack!

    Thanks for re-adding me to your Links & Blogs!

    Here's another favorite spot of ours. Here's their link for you to checkout - they ship!


  10. Jacques Pepin is my favorite American French chef, I love his healthy recipes and enjoyed his PBS cooking series! I will have to order this cookbook and for sure make this wonderful recipe;-) (I can smell the aroma coming off your dish, delicious photo!)

  11. This looks so very tasty and loaded with flavours!
    Love your serving dish too.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. I'm glad you don't post everyday because I quickly run out of words to tell you what terrific presentations and photos you put up.

  13. I love Monkfish but it is not that cheap here, this sound delicious. We are experimenting with all kinds of fish that we have never bought before. Have a great weekend Diane

  14. I'm the same way with new cookbooks but I use those small see through 3-M tags or tabs.

  15. I've never tasted monkfish but what a delicious preparation. Looking through the list of ingredients it sounds wonderful!

  16. I'd be skeptical too of yet another cookbook, but since his new book has been graced with your approval, this may be added to my collection as well. I like the simplicity of this recipe. It's loaded with wonderful herbs.

  17. Love monkfish but very rare where I live. I got this great book for Christmas and was planning a review soon. Jacques is my idol.
    I had to laugh when I read.....
    When I get a new cookbook, I grab a pen and a piece of paper and make notes on recipes to try.... I always do that.
    I will write this one down on my list. Merci.

  18. Uh, oh....another cookbook to add to my wishlist! This monkfish dish looks simply wonderful~

  19. I love monkfish and this dish looks very good!
    Have a nice w.e.!

  20. I've been eyeing that cookbook. Love Mr. Pepin - he never fails and love this dish - lots of flavor. Lots of goodness.

  21. Hi Sam,
    I feel like I grew up with Jacques Pepin, he is one of my cooking hero's. Your review of his new book has motivated me to purchase the book and I can't wait to get it. The Monkfish is lovely and a fabulous presentation!

    Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Happy St. Patrick's Day!
    Miz Helen

  22. You've convinced me to check out Jacque's latest - this looks like a beautiful dish. Have you ever read Jacque's memoir? I thought it was fascinating, with such diverse experiences.

  23. Hi dear Sam,

    Yes, the FINISHING of the book is the toughest. All those passes through first, second, then third, all the queries from the copy editor, the blind editor, the editor, the art department, on and on, but it is WORTH it. YOU WILL FINISH!

    Jacques is my favorite. I loved it when he cooked with Julia and I adored their repartee.

    Love to you,


  24. The sauce looks delicious. So French, as you say. Do you think it would work with shrimp, for those of us non-lovers of monkfish?

  25. look and sounds absolutely nice Sam:)

  26. Sounds like a must try, Sam! What a beautiful herb scented dish! Just lovely. And as always you make it ll the more enticing with your fabulous images!
    Thanks for joining OTMM this week.
    xo Yvonne

  27. beautiful, tempting, lovely, delicious and it just looks like perfection! i must make this dish soon. What a wonderful way to use fish

  28. I love monkfish! I haven't and it in ages, and I think the last time I had it, it was in a tomato sauce of sorts and it was wonderful. This sounds great, thanks for sharing!

  29. Where are we going to put all our cookbooks, Sam? I have mine scattered all around the house, as my shelves in the kitchen are filled to overflowing!
    I'd love this one, but am going to count on you to keep me up to date on fabulous recipes from it. (35??)
    This dish looks marvelous! The more fish recipes, the better.

  30. Hi,

    Monkfish in Sweden is very fancy fish.

    Wow! TY for this recipe. I love fish (not to mention of my dieting) LoL.

    Happy Monday.

    Greetings from stormy Stockholm,

  31. What a beautiful dish, Sam. I shy away from monkfish because of several bad experiences with it a long time ago. this preparation looks like it is delicious and it's worth trying again. Lovely presentation, too.

  32. Jacques is one of my favorite chefs. His recipes have so much flavor and I always visualize sitting at this dining room table when I make one of his dishes. Thank you Sam, for sharing sounds great.

  33. My son used to beg to watch Pepin when he was little. He didn't like "The Loud Guy" Emerill. I rarely see Monkfish recipes so this is a real find. I would love it if you would share it on my Foodie Friday Linky.

  34. What a wonderful recipe and great photos. I don't think we have ever had monkfish. David will love this. Thanks Sam.

  35. Healthy, delicious, and a treat for the eyes. I have eaten monkfish many times in restaurants but have never prepared it myself. It looks like I will now!

    I am still drooling over your shrimp of the previous post and that will be dinner tomorrow night as the fresh seafood market is less than a mile from my kitchen!


  36. this is such a delicious looking meal - I love Jacques Pepin - he is such a lovely, gracious man - and of course his recipes are outstanding - thanks for celebrating this!
    Mary x

  37. Dear Sam, Monkfish is a favorite of mine. I like this stew. Perfect with a good piece of bread to dip. Blessings my dear, Catherine xo

  38. Oh my goodness...doens't this look delicious!! It is a "must make"!

  39. This recipe has the ingredients I like – cognac and tarragon - it must really taste good. I cooked some fish today but it was for my little grandsons, so it was not elaborate, but I will try your recipe for the adults…

  40. Those beautiful Old Chelsea plates. I had a set of those dishes when my boys were growing up. Pang. Joanne W

  41. I have only one of his cookbooks, I do like his recipes. This one sounds wonderful Sam.

  42. I love classisc French dishes like this fabulous one a lot! I never heard from this chef before!

    I love clean filled plates like this one! Tasty & apart! :)
    Yummy food!

  43. oh yum...what flavors!! i love everything about this dish!!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

  44. I love Jaques Pepin but unfortunately I don't have any of his cookbooks. This sounds like like a wonderful cookbook to buy. Your fish looks wonderful!

  45. thank you for stop bye in my cooking blogg.


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