Thursday, June 10, 2010

Broiled Grouper with Lemon Risotto

So, I found some nice red grouper at the store and decided to give it a try.  I think I would have honestly preferred a nice piece of snapper, but sometimes you take what you can get - especially when you live in North Alabama.  Not knocking 'Bama, just saying fresh high quality fish is just about impossible to find 'round these parts.  When you buy white fish, the appearance should be nice and not dry, the flesh firm not mushy, the smell like the sea, not fishy, and the blood should be bright and pinkish in color.  If the fish does not meet these tests, then the choice is simple: do not buy it.

Anyhow, I decided to go with a quick broil since this was a weeknight meal and broiling is very fast.  Marinade is simple: sea salt, white pepper, then softened butter brushed on top.  Next diced shallots, squeeze of lemon, and fresh grated parmesan reggiano.  Be generous with the parmesan so it will form a nice crust when you broil the fish.  Next prepare a baking sheet covered with foil.  Brush some of the softened butter on the foil where you will place the fish to prevent it from sticking.  Now place the oven on broil at 450 degrees.  You can either use a conventional or toaster oven.  Now place the fish in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes for a 1 inch thick fillet.  It should be only warm in the center, not piping hot, otherwise it will be over cooked and dry.  It should be moist and flakey.  Notice in the picture, there is almost no coagulation of proteins (white fatty looking deposits) on the fish when properly cooked.  High heat, shorter cooking time is the way this is accomplished.

For the risotto, bring about 6 cups of water to a simmer in a pot.  In a heavy bottom skillet, melt butter on medium high heat and add finely chopped scallions.  Soften and add 1 heaping cup of risotto (arborio rice) and cook until translucent.  Next add 1 cup dry white wine.  Once absorbed, begin adding hot water 1 cup at a time until absorbed each time.  Stir continually.  Each time you add water, the rice should begin to flow.  If the rice does not flow, you should add more water.  Once the rice is softened and finished cooking, add 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 Tbsp of lemon zest, and a sqeeze of lemon juice.  Next add 3/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan reggiano and 2 Tbsp of butter.  Integrate and remove from heat.  Season with salt to taste.  This is a very good, creamy risotto.  A slightly modified version of a recipe I got off one of my favorite websites, Saveur.

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