Forno Bravo Community Cookbook

Oven-Roasted Whitefish With Braised Celery Root Remoulade

Here’s another classic French dish reinterpreted for the wood oven. This is a great one for dining al fresco on the beautiful spring nights that are now upon us (at least in Chicago – go figure).

whitefish

4 portions whitefish, skin on
2 T vegetable oil
For the braised celery root:
2 lemons, zest and juice
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C white wine vinegar
1 1/4 C water
1/4 medium onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
8 fresh parsley stems
1 large celery root bulb
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the remoulade:
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/4 C vegetable oil
2 T capers, drained and chopped
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 T fresh chives, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot, combine the lemon zest and juice, white wine, vinegar, water, onion, carrot, 1/2 tsp salt, peppercorns and herbs. (For the lemon zest, use a peeler to remove strips from the outside of the citrus and add them to the pot whole.) Bring to a boil, then cook at a bare simmer for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep until you’re ready to use it. (For the food nerds out there, what you’re making here is a court bouillon.)

Meanwhile, cut the celery root into a julienne: Use a peeler or knife to remove the tough outer skin of the root. Cut the celery root in half from top to bottom, then cut each piece into half-moon-shaped slices approximately 1/8-inch thick. Cut the slices into matchstick-shaped pieces 1/8-inch thick.

Preheat a large roasting pan in your wood oven with the 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Strain the solids from your court bouillon and reserve the liquid. When your pan is hot, add the celery root and cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely caramelized, probably 2-3 minutes. Add the court bouillon liquid to the pan and return to the oven. Cook until the celery root is tender, probably another 5-6 minutes depending on your oven temperature.

Remove from the oven. Strain off the liquid and discard. Allow the celery root to cool to room temperature.

To make the mayonnaise base of the remoulade, combine the egg, yolk, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. (You can use a microplane for both the lemon zest and the garlic – much faster and easier than a knife.) Pulse briefly to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Remove from the food processor and fold in the capers, parsley, chives and chilled celery root. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary.
Finally, heat a large saute pan or skillet in your wood oven. Remove your fish from the refrigerator and allow it to temper. Season the each portion with salt. Unless you have a really large pan and/or oven, you will probably need to cook your fish in batches. Add half the oil to the pan. When the oil just begins to smoke, add two portions of fish, skin side down. Roast in the oven until the flesh has gone from translucent to white, the fish is warm in the middle when pierced with a knife or skewer, and the skin is nicely crusted, about 4-7 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven. Repeat for the remaining portions.
Serve the fish skin side up with a scoop of the remoulade on top. All you need to do is maybe wilt a little spinach, perhaps pour a glass of chenin blanc, and your first outdoor meal of the spring is ready to go.
 

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