by Michael Lomonaco and Andrew Friedman
from Nightly Specials
(William Morrow, 2004)
There are few more surefire ways of pleasing a crowd than with a playful variation on a classic dish. This is a seafood variation of osso buco (the name means “hole In the bone”), an Italian classic, in which a veal shank is braised for hours. The orange zest–parsley mixture that tops each serving is a play on gremolata, the chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest that tops a traditional osso buco. Monkfish has an unusual shape, to say the least. Its tail is enormous and seems to flow right into the head. Monkfish are always sold sans heads which are used for bait. Consequently, monkfish are sold by the “tail.” For this recipe, ask your fishmonger for smaller tails with the skin removed but have the fish cut like a steak, directly through the bone, leaving a center bone with two “fillets” of fish on either side. A 3- to 4-inch piece with two fillets on each side of the bone is a good size.
This dish is so special with monkfish that I hesitate to offer any alternatives. But you can make it with mahi mahi steaks, yellowtail steaks, or salmon fillets.–Michael Lomonaco
Four 8-ounce monkfish tails (1 1/2 inches thick), on the bone
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup oil
1/2 pound pancetta, minced
2 medium onions, cut into small dice
1 medium carrot, cut into small dice
1/2 fennel bulb, cut into small dice, fronds reserved
2 garlic cloves
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped plum tomatoes
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
2. Heat the oil in a 2-inch-high, heavy-bottomed saute pan with a cover over medium-high heat. Set the monkfish tails in the pan without crowding and sear on one side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn them over, add the pancetta to the pan, and sear the tails on the other side for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to remove the fish and pancetta to a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.
3. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic to the pan and saute over high heat, stirring, to begin caramelizing the vegetables, 5 to 8 minutes. Spread the vegetables over the surface of the pan and set the fish and pancetta over them. Pour the wine and tomatoes into the pan, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the liquid is simmering, cover the pan, and simmer for 12 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, put the parsley and orange zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
5. Transfer 1 monkfish tail to the center of each of 4 dinner plates. Top with some of the vegetables and sauce and finish with the orange-parsley mixture and some fennel fronds.