Vol. 15 No. 18- February 25, 2015
Panic stricken to perfect
Island grouper can be enhanced with capers, tomatoes
and artichoke hearts.
I can’t tell you how often when I’m invited to dinner at someone’s home how much pressure they put on themselves to cook the perfect meal for me and the fear of not living up to those standards.
When I met Amanda, who’s a better cook than I am, she wouldn’t cook seafood for me. She always thought she couldn’t do it as well as a seafood restaurant owner could. I remember cooking one of my favorite seafood dishes for her early in our relationship, and she watched and helped and said, “That’s it? That’s all there is to it?” I hated to admit it, but, yes, that is all there is to it. Many are apprehensive about cooking seafood, but it is so simple. But then again, after watching people that have cooked for years, like any other profession, it always appears easy.
We have just returned from a ski trip in Telluride with buds last week and one of my childhood pals, Joe bought salmon to cook one night. He had a recipe he brought with him from Texas – chili powder crusted salmon. You know those Texans – got be hot to be real food. His apprehension probably peaked as I sat at the counter in the kitchen with a nice hot toddy and watched closely. Maybe a little micro-management follows me on vacation too?? He read the recipe, mixed all his spices and prepped the salmon and followed the recipe almost perfectly. Sautéed to perfection and thrown into the oven to finish. I mentioned that usually you flip the filets before throwing them into the oven. He looked at me like I was nuts. I’m used to that look, trust me and he reviewed his recipe again. Sure enough. So he pulled pans from the oven and flipped the fish and returned. The result? Perfectly cooked chili-crusted salmon and this from a Texas meat and potatoes guy, who has spent the last 25 years in quantum physics. I wonder if roles were reversed if I could do his job as easily as he just did mine. Doubt it very much.
Try cooking every type of food, you’ll be surprised how easy it can be, but remember, it’s the clean-up that makes it better to eat in a restaurant.
By JOHN HORNE
• Two 6-oz. grouper filets (any meaty local fish will do)
• Badia Complete ® Seasoning
• Olive oil (EVOO)
• Fresh diced tomatoes
• Artichoke hearts (quartered)
• Garlic butter…or some of both
•Season grouper on both sides. Lightly dredge in flour and sauté flesh side down in sauté pan with olive oil. When nicely browned on one side, add garlic butter until melted, then turn fish and add capers, artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Squeeze lemon over all of pan and then top with wine. After all is combined and simmering well, place in pre-heated oven at 350°. Cook until the meat separates easily at the muscle band when you push on the grouper, about 4 minutes in the oven.
• I intentionally left out portions on add-ins. Add as much, as little or skip some of the artichokes, capers or tomatoes as you like. It’s your Island grouper. Make it to your taste
• Serve over whatever starch makes you happy and then drizzle with some extra gravy from the pan. Make sure you saved some of the wine for your glass. Enjoy!