Potato Encrusted Halibut with Roasted Onions and Fennel

Have you ever been eating out at a restaurant and seen something on the menu (or in my case, something on someone else's plate) that just sounds (or looks) so delicious that you think to yourself, "mmm...I have to try and make that at home"?? This was one of those times. Loving Boyfriend and I were at the Steelhead Brewery last week for a going-away dinner for a friend and the woman sitting next to me ordered potato encrusted halibut. Yummy. And having a freezer full of wild Alaskan halibut that needs eatin,' the wheels started turnin.' Their version has tarragon and asagio cheese, which I'm sure is fabulous, but I didn't have either of those ingredients on hand. What I did have was some thyme (left over from the potato leek soup), some potatoes (also from the soup making), some goat-zarella cheese (a texture like mozzarella, but with a slight goat-cheese taste to it), cheddar cheese, mustard, mayonnaise, and the Internet at my disposal.

I've already told you my fear of not using recipes that I am trying to overcome, so this was my attempt at being flexible...unfortunately for me these times usually end up disasterous...but read on. I didn't print off a recipe, but instead, got ideas from the Internet for how to get the potato to stick to the fish. After thawing two fillets out, I turned the oven on to 400F - then lined a baking pan with tin foil and cut up a fennel bulb and quartered a couple of small onions. While I roasted the vegies with olive oil, salt, and pepper, I mixed together a couple of tbsp. of real mayonnaise, some whole-grain, dijon mustard, and some fresh thyme. I skinned the fillets, patted them dry, and salt and peppered them. In another bowl, I grated yukon potatoes (what I had on hand, but russets would probably work better) and then squeezed them dry with paper towels (they have a TON of water in them!!). I then added enough goatzerella and cheddar cheese to give a little flavor without being too cheesy (if there is such a thing).

After ten minutes in the oven, I removed the pan, moved the veggies over to the sides of the pan and placed the fish fillets right in the center. I slathered them with the mayonnaise mixture, then added the potato mixture on top, gently pressed it in with my fingertips, and stuck the whole thing in the oven.

Here's where the disaster started. After about 15 minutes in the oven, I figured that the fish must be done, turned the broiler on because the potatoes weren't browning like I wanted them too, and...oh, did I forget to mention that our oven is almost 100 degrees on the high side? About 5 minutes later, the
fire alarm with its newly-put-in-battery-from-the-Halloween -shindig went off. As I ran and started fanning the fire alarm, the oven, as a safety measure I guess, kicked itself off. I left the fish in there for a few more minutes hoping it was finished cooking and pulled it out. It was still raw in the center. Now my potatoes were crusty, but my fish wasn't done, and my oven wouldn't turn back on.

Sooo...out came the frying pan. I added some olive oil, heated up the pan and seared the fish on the bottom until it was cooked through (can't tell from the picture though, huh?). All in all, it was actually delicious. Crispy potatoes on top with the soft, tender flesh of the fish beneath. There was the slight tang of the mustard/mayo mix and a gentle suggestion of thyme. I would definitely eat it again, although I've learned my lesson with broiling in my oven. I served it with a simple salad and Loving Boyfriend's homemade oil and vinegar dressing (it's different every time!), and the roasted vegetables on the side. The roasted fennel and onions were awesome, especially the fennel which were wonderfully carmelized. After dinner we discovered our kitchen drain is plugged...completely.
Ahhh, adventure in the kitchen.

10 comments from you:

vlb5757 said...

Michelle, I was laughing so hard when I read about the smoke alarm. That happens to me more than I want to admit. I fanned it the other day when I try roasting a chicken again. The house filled up with smoke and there I am admist four barking doxies fanning that stupid alarm with a cuptowel. I am sure glad that I wasn't on some TV show. Well, wait. I might have won some money and than could have hired a chef to cook for me...no a maid! lol

I think that next time you can shred your potoates and pat them onto the dry fish, then saute in a little oil and finish off the process in the oven. That way the potatoes are browned and then the baking (not broiling) will finish cooking the inside of the fish. You can broil it if you want to but be sure that you move the rack lower down in the oven. If you just want to bake it, you can turn it up to 400-450. Maybe you should invest in a digital thermometer so that you can check the fish and not get a nasty surprise when you go to eat it.

Anyway it was so funny reading your oven adventure. I got a real good belly laugh! Believe me there are others out there who aren't as brave as you to admit this adventure with the smoke alarm. That reminds me, we need to change out battery...thanks!

ilva said...

I was just going to suggest what Vickie said, finish the fish in the oven to get a good crust! But I think that you have been both brave and done very well-you managed without a recipe! Rome wasn't built in one day and that goes for cooking without recipes as well...congrats!

Dawn said...

I'm so glad when other people have cooking 'hiccups'! I have been imagining that I am the only one! The fish sounds good...I also get inspired when I eat something good at a restaurant.

And it was just last night that I fixed something for dinner that didn't go over so well. I used some store bought (imported from Italy) gnocchi from Trader Joe's and made a simple parmesan cheese cream sauce. My son like it, but my husband and I were not so thrilled. Oh well. Can't win them all!

michelle said...

Vickie and Ilva, You're so smart! Of course I should have seared it first and then finished it off in the oven! Why didn't I think of that???? Ah well, it's a learning process, huh? Thanks for the tips and encouragement!

Hi Dawn, Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one! It's too bad that things can sound sooooo wonderful and sometimes they just don't turn out like we imagined! At least your son liked it! I would think that children would be the hardest ones to please!

vlb5757 said...

Michelle, I forgot to say that I think you were a very brave girl for not using a recipe. I know it's outside your comfort zone but things usually go well. Small hiccups as Dawn said, make for a great dish the next time around. So now you know to do the potatoes on the fish first, sautee and then finish off in the oven. So see not using a recipe worked out just fine. You liked it and it looked wonderful. Now about that oven...lol!

Jim said...

Your adventure put a big smile on my face, I sometimes use a recipe for a starting reference point but almost never follow one, it's too much fun to be creative instead.

I finally had to take the batteries out of our smoke alarm or I would've given up cooking altogether!

Every time we turned the oven on, off goes the alarm, and we tried moving it all over our little cabin, and then, while I was trying to get the batteries out of the damned thing, I would burn something.

The dinner sounds wonderful and you've primed me for my next cooking experience.

Speaking of experience, long ago, I mean decades ago, on my birthday I decided to make myself a special birthday breakfast.

I consulted my tastebuds for inspiration and decided to combine two of my very favorite foods into a standard egg & cheese omelete.

Let me advise you now friends, lest madness overtakes you too!

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT EVER make a spinach & oyster omelete!!

Trust me...

ilva said...

I can't find any mail address to you so if you REALLY want to know more about why and where (as requested on my blog) send me a mail and I will tell you!!

kitchenmage said...

Oh. My. I've had plenty of those days! But on the upside, you learned a few things and you and LB have one more thing to look back upon and laugh. So not a total loss by any means.

Our dishwasher just died. As in, "It's dead, Jim and it would cost more to fix it than it's worth" dead. Crud. And when we put the floor in a year ago we had this conversation:
"You know, if we ever have to replace the dishwsher, we're going to have to pull the countertops."
"Whatever. It's not going to happen for a long time, and by then we'll be able to replace the sink and countertop, plus get a dishwasher that will let me get the kitchen licensed for off-site consumption baking."

Umm, guess who doesn't have a spare couple thousand bucks lying around? The upside is that, for some reason, the kitchen is cleaner than when we had a functional dishwasher. Go figure.

Michèle said...

Hi Michelle, that is quite an adventure! But I seem to be the same way when it comes to fish, and meat in general.. I keep thinking it must be done, because often recipes say "just a couple of minutes per side" but it never seems to work out that way for me! So I have been guilty of cranking up the broiler too ;)
But I'm glad you were able to salvage the meal, that is quite a miracle. And the idea of potato encrusted fish sounds really good!

michelle said...

Hi Vickie, Ha Ha! Thanks for all the encouragement!

Hi Jim, glad to know that someone else has similar problems! I'll take your advice on that er...delicious sounding omelete!

Hi Kitchenmage, I'm trying to keep my chin up and keep going! Sorry to hear about the dishwasher - I'm sure very similar things will definitely happen to me as soon as I own a house!

Hi Michele - we share the same name and the same dilemmas! Thanks for making me feel better :)