Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What's for Dinner?

I have to take Rachel Ray and her obnoxious acronyms in small doses. But sign me up for heaping helpings of her recipes! I'll admit, some of her creations are just downright insulting to the rest of the culinary world - Chicago Dog Salad? She cannot be serious...Oh, but she is. (In case you're wondering, it's a salad with mustard dressing and hot dogs on top.) But let's ignore the blunders for a minute and discuss one of Ray's more noteworthy recipes - Grilled Halibut with Fennel, Orange, Red Onions, and Oregano.

Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook has served me well for over a year now. I haven't even begun to tackle all the recipes yet, but the ones I have prepared have been pleasantly delicious. Since citrus and fennel are in season, it was a good excuse to break this one out. The recipe is a unique blend of flavors; it's tart, tangy, and crisp. And if you haven't had fennel then I recommend you try this out.

Warning: If you buy fennel at Kroger, the cashier will not know what fennel is. Guaranteed. And unfortunately, it's not in their cheater code book. So be sure to jot down the PLU -- #4515.

Grilled Halibut with Fennel, Orange, Red Onions, and Oregano

This dish is fast and healthy and incorporates a favorite Sicilian combo: oranges, red onions, and oregano.

2 Tablespoons EVOO (plus some for drizzling)
4 6-0z halibut fillets
Salt & Pepper
Crusty bread, cut into thick slices
1 Orange
1 fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (a couple of splashes)
A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (from 2 springs)

Of course you can substitute dried herbs if you don't have fresh oregano or parsley, but the recipe will be lacking. I speak from experience...

Heat a grill pan over high heat. Drizzle EVOO over the fish and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 4 minutes on each side, or until the fish is firm and cooked through but not tough. Grill the bread alongside or char under a broiler, then dress with EVOO, salt, and pepper as well.

Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat.

While the fish cooks, grate the zest of the orange and reserve (I always do this before I begin. I must be a slow grater, but works for me.) Peel the oranges as you would a melon; cut off the ends, stand it upright, and cut off the skin and pith in thin strips from top to bottom. Cut the oranges into thin slices (discs).

To the preheated skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of EVOO (twice around the pan), the fennel, and onions, season with S&P, and cook for 3-5 minutes, until seared and begining to soften. Add the vinegar to the pan and give it a shake. Remove from the heat and toss in the oranges and zest, the parsley, and oregano. Adjust the seasoning and serve the salad on dinner plates topped with the fish. Serve the seasoned bread alongside.

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