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.
written by Michelle at 12:05 PM