Color & Control:

Roast Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes and Bone Marrow Croutons

This is a very exotic and healthy dish that’s so big on flavour. That comes from the fish, of course, but also from its accompaniments. Cherry tomatoes are available year-round and they’re always sweet — when you use them in this fashion, you create a great base sauce that heightens the sweetness of the tomatoes. Bone marrow butter adds a rich element and that great beefy flavour. The bone marrow croutons are surprisingly versatile: you could add them to salads — especially salads with an endive base — or throw them on mac and cheese! They’re universally good.

I’d suggest starting this meal with a simple pasta appetizer, like a small portion of carbonara, which is cheese-based, not tomato-based. Wine should be a white or rosé, and for dessert, serve an easy and tasty pavlova. You could invite me anytime for that meal!

Roast Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes and Bone Marrow Croutons

1 large skinless fillet halibut (about 2 lb/1 kg)
Salt and white pepper
1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) yellow cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup (125 mL) olive-oil-packed red cherry tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) bone marrow focaccia croutons
1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine
1 tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) basil, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) fine olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Pat halibut dry with paper towels; season with salt and white pepper. Heat half the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium-high. Add fish skin side up; sear until lightly bronzed, about 5 minutes. Add half the butter, flip fish, transfer to oven. Roast fish, basting periodically until cooked through and beginning to flake, about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet.

Meanwhile, heat another skillet on high heat. Add the remaining olive oil and butter. Sear the yellow tomatoes until they blister, split, and begin to break down. Add red tomatoes, then croutons. Deglaze the pan with white wine; follow with vinegar. Working quickly — you want the croutons to be moistened not soggy — fold in basil and parsley. Season.

Transfer fish to a warm platter and top with the tomato-crouton mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Cut into portions at the table and serve topped with the hot panzanella and its juices. Serves 6.

Sautéed swiss chard with white anchovies and lemon zest

3 bunches Swiss chard
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
Salt and pepper
12 oil-packed white anchovies (about 8 oz/250 g), drained

Trim discoloured ends off the chard stalks. Cut stems from the leaves. Blanch leaves in boiling, salted water until they wilt; transfer to a colander to drain. Blanch stems separately until they soften; shock them in ice water.

In a very large skillet or sauté pan, sweat garlic in the olive oil until it softens — but do not let it brown. Add chard leaves and stems and raise heat to medium-high. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add wine and lemon juice. Cook 2 minutes longer, then add the lemon zest and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer chard to a serving platter. Drape anchovies over top. Serves 6.

Bone marrow focaccia croutons

1/2 loaf focaccia
1/2 cup (125 mL) bone marrow butter

Gently melt the marrow butter over low heat. Tear crouton-sized morsels of focaccia crumb from between the crusts until you have about 2 cups (500 mL). Toss in the melted marrow butter until infused. Fry the croutons over medium-low heat until golden and crisp. Allow to cool before using. Makes 2 cups.

Bone marrow butter

4 beef marrow bones (each about 6 inches/18 cm and 4 lb/2 kg total), split lengthwise
1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter, cubed
Salt and pepper

Place marrow bones in a large pot filled with cold water. Refrigerate overnight, changing the water several times. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Drain the bones, pat dry, and arrange them marrow side up in a roasting pan. Roast until bronzed and the marrow yields easily when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Set aside to rest. Remove butter from the refrigerator and leave to warm on the countertop for about 10 minutes. Scrape warm marrow from the bones into a bowl and add the cool butter. Mix well with a rubber spatula to form a paste. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and season to taste. Makes 1 cup.

Chef tips:

1. With halibut, the most important thing is not to undercook or overcook it. Cook the fish until the flesh just separates. Allow the fish to sit for a few minutes while you assemble the various elements. You can add that into your cooking time.

2. This is a versatile recipe. If you want to switch out the halibut, orata, branzino, black sea bass and grouper would all be good substitutes.

3. To get good tenderness and colour on the Swiss chard, separate the stems and leaves before you cook them. Doing this ensures you get the right cook on each part before you mix them together in the final cook.


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