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Baked Flounder Roll-Ups with Lemon, Butter and White Wine Sauce

April 30, 2013 Menu No Comments

The May 2013 edition of La Cucina Italiana magazine has an interesting recipe which immediately caught my eye. Braciole di pesce (sole braciole with almond biscuit crumbs), is their creative play on traditional braciole. For those of you that are not familiar with traditional braciole, it is a thin slice of meat (usually beef) that is rolled with a bread-based stuffing and is pan fried and often added to a Sunday gravy. La Cucina’s version is using fillet of sole (which is a thin-cut fillet) stuffed with crushed butter biscuits, almonds and parsley. A very interesting – although odd – combination to say the least.

This dish inspired me to try my own version, instead using flounder and a more traditional stuffing of crabmeat, fresh parsley and breadcrumbs. Now, before I go any further, you are probably wondering what the difference is between my roll-up recipe, and the classic stuffed flounder. The answer: nothing, really. The presentation may be different (the stuffing is contained in the roll-up as opposed to being stuffed in a cut pocket), but the delicious combination works the same for either version.

Just like traditional meat braciole, you can adjust the stuffing ingredients to your liking. Scallops, shrimp and spinach all work well as stuffing ingredients for fish. However, unlike traditional braciole, a fish roll-up, particularly one using a flaky fish such as flounder, is best prepared baked instead of fried. While a flaky fish can be flipped once in a frying pan, its delicate texture would make it difficult to successfully cook on all four sides without falling apart.

To add some depth and flavor, I made a quick lemon, butter and white wine sauce on the stove top and drizzled it on top of the roll-ups after they were done. It was the perfect compliment to the fish, marrying all of the flavors and tastes together with each bite.

BAKED FLOUNDER ROLL-UPS WITH LEMON, BUTTER  AND WHITE WINE SAUCE

4 pieces flounder
salt and pepper
1 6-oz can white crab meat, drained
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1tbspn fresh chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tspn butter, plus 1 tbspn butter
1 tbspn olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 350˚. Mix together the crabmeat, breadcrumbs and parsley. Lightly season the flounder fillets with salt and pepper (if the flounder pieces are large, you can cut them in half, length-wise). Lay the flounder out flat and evenly spread the crabmeat mixture on all four pieces. Roll up the fillets and secure tight with a toothpick. Lightly brush the flounder fillets with 1 tspn melted butter.

Place the fillets, seam side down, on a lightly sprayed baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes or until the fillets become flaky.

About midway through the baking time, you will start to prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add 1 tbspn butter. When butter is melted, add the chopped shallots, stir in and cook until translucent. Add the lemon juice and the wine, heat until wine starts to reduce.

When the fish is done, remove from the baking tray and place onto a serving dish. Evenly drizzle the sauce over the fillet roll-ups, then sprinkle with additional fresh chopped parsley.

This dish serves well with steamed greens and a crisp white wine.

The flounder fillets with the crabmeat filling spread evenly on each piece (top photo),
then rolled and secured with toothpicks (bottom photo).

 

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Lemon Parmesan Crusted Flounder

March 8, 2013 Entrees No Comments

Here’s a recipe that with just one additional ingredient – the mighty lemon – you can turn a traditional crusted flounder into a zesty, flavor-filled dish. It is also perfect for this Lenten season. I always enjoy adding a bit of lemon to my seafood. By simply adding the zest and juice of one lemon to the batter and breading, you get the flavor baked right into the fish. Simple and easy!

 

 

 

 

Lemon Parmesan Crusted Flounder

4-6 flounder fillets (you can also use tilapia or cod)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
zest and juice of 1 lemon
dash of salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly beat egg and lemon juice in a bowl (you can add just a bit of water to make the egg batter last). In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Dip the fillets into the egg batter, then pat them into the breadcrumb mixture until evenly coated. Place the fillets on a lightly sprayed 9×13 glass dish. Bake for 15 minutes until flaky.

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Braised Mahi Mahi in White Wine

February 4, 2012 Entrees, Menu No Comments

*NOTE – There is a common misconception with mahi mahi. Although mahi mahi are a type of dolphin fish, they are not mammals and do not resemble the porpoises that most associate with the term “dolphin.”

A few weeks back I purchased a 5 quart double-dutch oven, which is a cast iron pot that can be used either on the stove top or in the oven (it’s double-dutch because the lid can also be inverted and used as a frying pan…neat, huh!). After a few night of using it to make popcorn – really good popcorn – I decided to put it to use to make an actual meal. Braising – a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat (thank you, Wikipedia) – is an excellent cooking method to use with a dutch oven. The most common braised dishes are usually made up of a meat and vegetables – post roast with potatoes and carrots, and chicken cacciatore are two great examples of braised dishes. Typically the meat is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with vegetables and a variable amount of liquid. The liquid will usually thicken into a sauce, and will both tenderize and flavor the meat. A crock pot is another way to braise, over a longer period of time.

Because my wife and I aren’t big red meat eaters, I decided to give braised fish a try. I found some mahi mahi in the supermarket and thought it would be a good choice. It’s a meaty fish that serves well moist, but doesn’t flake apart as easily as flounder or salmon. Tuna would have worked well, but I wasn’t interested in the steak-like texture for this meal. Turns out that the mahi mahi worked fantastic! I braised it up with sliced zucchini and squash (my go-to veggies when preparing fish), diced tomatoes, a little white wine and lemon, and some fresh chopped herbs. Like most fresh fish, mahi mahi is more delicate that a cut of meat or chicken, so there was no need to sear it. I just rested it on top of the cooked vegetables and let all of the liquid and flavors work their magic. The end result was very fresh and flavorful, and the white wine and lemon created just enough of a sauce…almost making it a fish stew. When it came time to serve, the fish was so perfectly cooked that it started to fall apart. I plated it all together and served it family style with a loaf of crusty bread for dipping.

Now that I’ve made the dish, I’d give it a try with salmon as well, just checking up on it as it cooks to make sure it doesn’t fall apart before serving.

If you don’t have a dutch oven, a deep pan should also work well!

BRAISED MAHI MAHI IN WHITE WINE

Ingredients:

1 6oz. fresh Mahi Mahi fillet
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, juices drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbspn olive oil, plus more to drizzle on fish
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine
fresh chopped Italian parsley (about a half cup)

Directions:

Heat olive oil in dutch oven (or pan) over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots, cook for 1 minute. Add zucchini and squash, stir so the slices are well coated with the oil, garlic and shallots. Cook until softened. Add the diced tomatoes (remember to drain off the juices, stir together until warmed). Add half of the chopped parsley and some salt and pepper to taste, stir.

Meanwhile, rinse off the fillet, drizzle both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Shift the vegetables to the sides of the pot, creating a little well in the middle. Add the wine and lemon juice, let it heat up and thicken just a bit (about a minute). Stir all of the vegetables into the center again, so they are coated with the lemon and wine.

Place the fillet on top of the vegetables,skin-side down, making sure that it doesn’t sit in the liquid. Cover the pot tightly with a lid. Let it cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining parsley, cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the fillet is opaque throughout.

Scoop out the vegetables, placing them on a serving plate. Gently remove the fillet, making sure that it doesn’t fall apart completely (it will most likely break into 2-3 parts). Carefully remove the skin. Break apart the fillet into chunks, spread on top of the vegetables.

Serve with crusty Italian bread!

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Swiss Chard and Beans with Seared Tuna

Like most kids, I was not a fan of veggies when I was young. Especially peas and broccoli. Actually, unless it was topped with cheese and sauce and ended with the letters “izza”, I really wanted nothing to do with it.

Today I’m still not a big fan of peas or broccoli (luckily my kids are, thanks to my wife), but my love for leafy greens has grown tremendously. Broccoli rabe/bitter broccoli is one of my favorite side dishes to make. Sauté with a little garlic and oil, and you’re good to go. I couldn’t think of a better sandwich topper! Escarole, of course, is the key ingredient to our holiday soup. I’ve also had some fun experimenting with escarole (you can check out my other escarole recipes here). Spinach is an often go-to as well, although I prefer to eat it as a fresh salad. The fresh-to-wilted ratio after it cooks is almost heart-breaking.

This week, I’m using another favorite green in a very traditional, old world dish. Swiss chard is a leafy green that is somewhat similar to spinach. It has a slightly bitter taste and can be used raw in salads. However, when cooked it loses its bitterness for a more refined, delicate taste than spinach. It’s also loaded with vitamins, fiber, minerals and protein.

For this recipe, I’m going to sauté chopped swiss chard in some olive oil, garlic and onions. I’m adding one 15 oz can of white kidney beans and some salt and pepper to taste, then topping it with slices of seared tuna and fresh lemon juice. The slight bitterness of the greens, mixed with the flavors of the garlic and onion, the tang of the lemon and the creamy texture of the cooked beans is amazing. The end result is a delicious, earthy, rustic side dish. Now, if you’re not a fan of tuna, grilled shrimp, steak or sausage will also work well. Or you can serve it without any additional topping as a side dish. … Continue Reading

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