Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chanterelle Pollack Ragoût with Fried Parsley

     A Hearty Whitefish Ragoût For A Chilly Day!
     The French word "Ragoût" simply translates to stew.  Stewing is a braising technique, no matter whether the stew is cooked on a stove top in a pot with no lid or if the stew is slowly baked in a sealed pot in an oven.  Stewing or braising techniques are the best methods for making tough cuts meat tender.  This does not mean that the stewing or braising recipes are limited to using only tough cuts of meat.
     Tender cuts of meat or seafood can also be braised or stewed.  When tender items are stewed or braised, usually the goal is to infuse flavor.
     If a delicate item, like whitefish filets are used to make a stew, a little bit of forethought is required.  If the white fish is added early in a stew recipe that has root vegetables in the list of ingredients, then the delicate whitefish will surely break up into tiny pieces by the time the stew finishes cooking.  Since delicate meats or fish filets take very little time to cook, it is best to add these items after the root vegetables finish cooking or shortly before serving the stew.
     Stew is a great cold weather food, because all the nutrients remain in the pot.  The stewing broth or sauce is full of nutrients that are easy to digest.  The fast that nutrient uptake occurs, the quicker that relief from cold will occur.  A ragoût of chanterelle mushrooms, root vegetables and whitefish provides plenty of good healthy cold weather nutrition!

     Pollack is a light tasting whitefish that has a nice clean flavor.  The flavor and texture is similar to Cod.  Pollack has a tendency to separate between the grains of the filet meat, so it must be handled gently and cooked carefully or the filet will fall apart.  For example, after adding petite filets of Pollack late in a stew recipe, the stew should not be stirred.      
     Sustainable seafood is not just a selling point at fine dining restaurants, it is the right choice to make when purchasing seafood of any kind.  It is best to check the current sustainability status of Pollack or any seafood species before making a purchase.  A good seafood sustainability reference on the internet is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

     Dried Chanterelles:
     Fresh chanterelles tend to sell for over $30 per pound, but fresh chanterelles are not available during winter.  Dried chanterelles are the only option during the winter season.
     Soak 5 or 6 dried thick chanterelle slices (about 1/5 cup) in 1 cup of water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Remove the reconstituted chanterelle slices from the soaking liquid.
     Save the soaking liquid for later in the recipe.
     Coarsely chop the reconstituted chanterelles and set them aside.

     Blond Roux:
     Make a small batch of blonde roux ahead of time for the stew recipe.  Any extra roux can be chilled and saved for another recipe.
     Step 1:  Melt 2 ounces of unsalted butter in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should look like a thick shiny liquid and it should not look caky.)
     Constantly stir till the roux is a golden blonde color.
     Step 2:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Stir occasionally while the roux cools.
     Set the roux aside.
     Chanterelle Pollack Ragoût: 
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
     The pollack is added late in the recipe, so it does not break up into tiny pieces.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 minced clove of garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Briefly sauté for a few seconds till the garlic becomes aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 3 peeled whole Boiler Onions.
     Add 1/4 cup of thick sliced parsnip.
     Add 5 thick carrot sticks.  (2 1/2" long)
     Add 6 thick peeled celery sticks.  (2 1/2" long)
     Sauté till the vegetables just start to cook.  (Do not brown the vegetables.)
     Step 3:  Add the reserved chopped chanterelle mushrooms.
     Add 4 ounces of peeled russet potato that is cut into large bite size pieces.
     Add 1/3 cup of dry white wine.
     Add enough whitefish stock (fumet) to cover the vegetables with 1" of extra liquid.  (About 2 cups to 2 1/2 cups.)
     Step 4:  Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the stewing vegetables to a boil.
     Step 5:  Add just enough of the reserved blonde roux while stirring, to thicken the broth to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Step 6:  Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of fresh rosemary leaves.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Simmer till the vegetables become tender and the sauce reduces to a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     *The Fried Parsley can be prepared while the stew simmers! 
     Step 7:  Add 6 ounces of pollack filet that is cut into large pieces
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Gently simmer till the pollack filet pieces are fully cooked.  Do not stir the stew or the fish pieces will break apart!
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.      

     Fried Parsley:
     This recipe yields enough to garnish 1 serving of ragoût.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add enough blended olive oil, so the oil is 1/8" deep.
     Step 2:  Cut about 15 small Italian Parsley sprigs.  (Sprigs with large leaves work best.)
     Fry a few sprigs at a time in the hot oil, till the leaves and stems are crisp.
     Use a small cake spatula to place the fried parsley sprigs on a dry pastry towel on a plate.
     Step 3:  Continue frying the parsley sprigs in small batches till they are all done.
     Set the Fried Parsley aside.
     Chanterelle Pollack Ragoût with Fried Parsley Presentation:
     Remove the bay leaf from the stew.
     Use a large serving spoon to place the Pollack Ragout with Chanterelles in a shallow bowl.  (Try to place a few of the pollack pieces on top, so they can be seen.)
     Place the fried parsley sprigs against the rim of the bowl around the stew.
     Garnish the stew with a rosemary sprig.
     Serve with sliced French Baguette Bread on the side.

     Voila!  A healthy hearty winter stew!  

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