Saturday, January 28, 2012

Anne Had Me At Kale Chips, But A Different Recipe Stood Out Plus Other Things To Consider Including One-Sided Fish Cooking

Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell

No excuses for being away, just enjoying things and I wanted to get these pictures right…Weren’t we talking about kale recently? I was so sure that this kale recipe of Anne’s was going to be the star of this show, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Seared cod does not sound that exciting, but Anne added a blood orange glaze, which completely livened it up.

Anne cuts the cod into 6 oz. portions and puts it on a baking tray. She says you can use haddock too, which is also “mild and delightful”. She covers the fish loosely and puts it back in the fridge to dry out. (That’s also a good idea for a whole chicken or chicken pieces with the skin. Season them, put them in whatever dish you’re cooking them in and then back in the fridge, uncovered, for about 4 hours. The skin will dry out and come out crisper after roasting. Folks do that with turkeys too. I don't want my raw turkey butting up against other stuff in the fridge, but a chicken is easier to control.)

Anne takes Tuscan kale out of the fridge and says it seems to be all the rage and she’s noticing it everywhere she goes. Me too! She cuts off the tough stems at the bottom and preheats the oven to 250°F. She coats the kale with olive oil, salt and chili peppers and places it in one layer on a baking tray. The kale gets baked for 30 to 35 minutes.

For the couscous salad, Anne cooks the couscous in super salty water and flavors it with a garlic clove and big slices of blood orange zest. One secret she gives us from the restaurant is to use everything around the kitchen to flavor things. A bay leaf goes in too with the smashed garlic clove. Anne cooks the couscous in a big pot of salted water and then she’ll drain it. That makes sense because couscous is actually a type of pasta, but I don't cook mine that way.

I just think that if I don't have to waste the time and energy bringing a big pot of water to the boil, why should I? Plus the directions on the container say to cook it in a smaller amount of water and not drain it, so I go with that. The only benefit I can think of for using more water is that the couscous comes out as more separate grains and is perhaps more suitable for a salad. But  Israeli (or pearled) couscous can be cooked either way.

Anne supremes blood oranges and grapefruits for the Blood Orange and Red Onion Salad during a break, which is simply to cut the sections of citrus fruits away from the pith and membranes.

She chops one really hot bird’s eye chili to add to the citrus with some red onions. She says the kale chips smell delicious.

Dried cranberries, sliced scallions, celery and garlic get marinated in white wine vinegar for the couscous dish.

Earlier, Anne talks about the celery almost being like a ceviche and getting “cooked” in vinegar. That’s so interesting. I’m totally in love with shallots in white wine vinegar, which become “pickled shallots”, so I guess this might be similar. I’m not as big a fan of celery as Anne is, though. I like the crunch, but I don’t love it when it’s bitter.

Now it’s “cod time”. Anne gets her oil smoking hot and she seasons the cod with Kosher salt. Incidentally, Anne lists her three favorite pieces of kitchen equipment. Guess what they are. I’ll give you a moment…
  • Fish spatula
  • Wooden spoon
  • Food Mill
I love all those things, but they’re not my top three. Mine are:
  • A Microplaner
  • A Chef’s Knife
  • Every single one of my Strainers and Colanders. (I have ten and I use each one for something different. It’s funny that a friend was recently talking about downsizing and I was thinking about how thrilled I was to be able to have a different strainer for each and every job. And I’m not even including my slotted and strainer spoons!)
Anne adds the cod to the oil and does not move it. She says it will unstick itself when it’s cooked.

Anne drains the couscous and takes out the bay leaves and orange zest and adds it to the celery mixture. She adds her “big fat finishing oil” to the couscous and to the citrus salad too.

Anne is moving a mile a minute now to get everything done. She takes out the kale chips and crunches down on one piece. Loverly.

I like that Anne kept the kale in big pieces, so they come out of the oven as these big bouquets of crispy greens on stems that you eat like cotton candy. The hard part is getting the flavoring (vinegar, salt) on. She makes a valiant attempt to season it before cooking by tossing them in a big bowl.

The problem with fresh kale is that the leaves are virtually waterproof. It’s like trying to season something wrapped in plastic. Dry stuff just bounces off and wet things run off. So Anne does the best she can, and presumably the kale holds on to enough of the ingredients to actually flavor it.

Anne puts the cod on a rack over a baking pan and finishes the cooking in a low and slow oven. Here's something noteworthy - Anne only cooks one side of the fish in the sauté pan. She gets the bottom nice and browned and then places it, cooked side up (the side you'll see), on the rack.

When you're broiling or sautéing fish, you really only have to do one side. You're only cooking the fish to get it warm, perhaps brown it for its looks and change the texture. It doesn't really matter if both sides hit the heat. (Even with chicken, I concentrate on getting really good color on one side and then I may let things slide a bit on the second, as long as it's cooked through.)

She gets rid of the oil in the fish pan and adds some blood orange juice and chopped blood orange supremes.

She adds parsley to the couscous salad. I’m getting a little lost about which dish is which.

But, wait, I have a problem with her cutting up the blood orange supremes. Why would you go to all the trouble of cutting away their pith and peel to reveal their singular segmented shape only to chop them up and boil them away? No, add the juice to the sauce, but use the supremes as a garnish, where you can see AND taste their beauty.

Anne adds vinegar and sugar to the blood orange reduction. Oh, that’s in the wiped-out fish pan and that will go over the fish at the end. The fish comes out of the oven and Anne plates it with the couscous salad. The dried cranberries are “a lovely punctuation”. She likes the champagne vinegar in the salad. As Anne tastes everything, she says it’s all ”happy stuff”. I love the blood orange glaze. It makes her taste buds “want to dance”. Mine too.

This was an absolutely delightful fish dish and you can lighten it up even more by poaching the fish in some water and wine, instead of sautéing it. It’s all about the blood orange glaze. Don’t have any blood oranges? Use navels and ruby red grapefruit, either together or singly. Or use divine clementines, which make delicious juice and an even more delicious sauce.

I also liked the couscous salad - as a base for the fish...AND on its own.


Emily said...

That's gorgeous!! I want that dish. The fish looks beautful. I love, love kale chips.

You're awesome! That is all.

Anonymous said...

I think this may be the first time I've seen a show before you wrote about it! I noticed, though, that Ann's fish did stick a little, despite her saying it would unstick itself when it was browned...

I like a big pot of water for Israeli couscous because I have often found that the package directions don't work. Unlike the little teeny couscous, older Israeli couscous can take more water and time to cook properly, depending on the size. Also, I found that a pump sprayer with olive oil in it is a great way to coat vegetables you'll be roasting without using a lot of oil and it would probably work for the kale too. Once the oil is on the salt ought to stick to it.

Sue said...

Thanks, Em. Right back atcha!

Hey Tom,
I know...this show was on a few weeks ago...

I've never had trouble with Israeli couscous. Maybe I do add a bit more water than it says, but it's always been done on time.

I like the IDEA of the spray bottle, but I keep my olive oil in the fridge and it's such a pain to remember to take it out in time. But that would be a good way of getting the oil on the kale. Also (remembering my OCD food handling issues), if you leave the bottle out, the oil left in it does go a bit rancid after a while.