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.