I was inspired by Mark Bittman’s piece in the NYTimes Magazine the weekend of April 3rd (here), in particular the recipe for whitefish with bacon and leeks. What didn’t inspire me about it was the preparation. It seemed like the whole thing could be done on the stove top in the same pan without having to bother with the oven.
Confession: I’m a native New Mexican. How much fish do you think we eat in New Mexico? Right. I didn’t grow up eating this stuff, and unless it’s fried or shrimp, I have a hard time with it. You should’ve seen me trying oysters for the second time recently. About as entertaining as the first time I tried them. I’ve discovered that I love halibut and I like cod, so I try to sneak those onto the dinner menu when I can. But I like to give it a good sear on each side, and I wasn’t sure I could achieve that as Mr. Bittman had written it.
This felt like an elegant meal, but a switch-out to cod could make this an easy weeknight supper. The bacon makes it substantial and is a natural companion to the leeks.
Also, be sure and check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to make sure your fish is sustainably fished. A quick glance for my wild-caught Alaskan halibut set my mind at ease.
Halibut with Bacon and Leeks
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
8 oz. bacon, diced
1 shallot or 1/2 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
2 tsp. thyme
1/2 cup white wine
2) Cook bacon over medium-high heat in large skillet. When fat begins to render, stir in shallot or onion and garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add leeks and thyme, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until leeks are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove bacon mixture from pan onto a plate, reserving drippings.
3) Cook halibut in same skillet until well-browned on one side, about 3-4 minutes. Turn, cooking for 2 minutes, then add bacon mixture back to pan all around the fish. Add wine to pan. If fillets are thick, you may want to put a lid on the pan to make sure they cook all the way through, about 5 minutes. Serve fillets on top of bacon and leeks.
NOTES: I served this with a crunchy salad, made from all the fun stuff in the bottom crisper drawer like celery, radishes, and carrots. I whisked together a simple dressing of mayo + lemon juice + dill and shook it all up with some romaine lettuce. It was a lovely counter-flavor to the rich halibut.