Tuesday, January 16, 2007

RR & ZZ's Mahi-Mahi, Couscous, Etc., Etc.

Rachael Ray and I sort of collaborated on this recipe. I am really bad about following a cooking recipe exactly, even when I try. I end up falling back on what I have on hand and what ingredients I imagine will taste good together. Thankfully, this one ended up getting FIVE STARS with five out of six eaters here.

The most fun part was using our new mezzaluna ("half moon" shaped blade for chopping herbs). It was $3.99 at Ross and came with a concave chopping board. I bought it for Paul (Mr. Kitchen Gadget) for Christmas. I love that word "mezzaluna." Say it like an Italian; you'll love it, too.

Anyway, in the RR cookbook Express Lane Meals that I just got for Christmas (from my gourmet sister named Rachel), the recipe is called Super-Herbed Sauteed Salmon with Creamy Leeks and Bacon. I'm seldom in the mood for salmon, and frank.ly, I didn't know what leeks were*.Love anything that has "creamy" in the title, and bacon is one of my favorite ingredients. Especially wrapped around shrimp, and grilled, but I save that for all my Gentile parties in the summer! The couscous was my addition to make this a one-pot meal with a starch. Don't be impressed; I'm truly lazy, not efficient.

Keep in mind that I am going to post here the way I made the meal. (If you try it and like it, I'll tell Rachael Ray to give me some of the royalties from her next cookbook.) Her recipe also calls for cooking the fish in a separate skillet, but I asked myself, "why dirty a separate skillet when you're only gonna return the fish to the bigger skillet anyway?') It's up to you. If doing dishes is therapeutic to you, then by all means, cook the fish in EVOO in a medium skillet. I prefer my therapy in hot bathwater, not sinkwater!

Here goes:

For 6 servings...

3 Tblsp. EVOO (extra -virgin olive oil)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (eyeball it)
1 large pinch black and red pepper mix
3/4 cup red cooking wine
salt and black pepper
1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock ( I increased it from this a little as needed to cook couscous)
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half (which I didn't have, so I squirt the last blast of sweet RediWhip creamer out of the can!)
6 portions of mahi-mahi (skins removed) each about the size of your palm
1/2 cup fresh parsley (she says flat leaf, I could only find curly; no big deal)
3 sprigs fresh dill (I used about a tsp of dried dill)
zest of 1 lemon (I used zest of 1/4 grapefruit)
couscous (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
8-10 oz frozen asparagus (ie the whole bag) OR six leeks (I used asparagus)
Crusty bread to pass at the table

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the EVOO, once around the pan. Add the chopped bacon and cook, stirring every now and then. While the bacon is getting crisp, take out a mezzaluna for fun. Rock it back and forth over the herbs and just inhale God's great aromas made for such a time as this! If you have no mezzaluna, just chop it all up with a knife. on a small cutting board. The aroma is still wonderful, but you lose a bit of the fun of rocking a two-handled tool.

Anyway....after the herbs are chopped, set them aside.

Combine the following in a shallow bowl: half the garlic, thyme, black/red pepper flake mix, salt and pepper. (I'm a pepper fan.You might want to reduce your amount.)

Once the bacon is crisp, remove it to a paper-towel lined plate and pat the grease away. Don't rinse out your skillet; it's got all those yummy flavors still in it! Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and put in the ingredients you just combined.

Add the wine and cook for 1 minute on MED-LOW, then add the chicken stock and cream. Then simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently. While this sauce is simmering, season the mahi-mahi like so:
-Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper
- On your cutting board where the herbs are, add the dill, remaining garlic, and lemon (or grapefruit) zest.
-Gently press one side of each fillet into this mixture.

Then set the mahi mahi fillets herb side down in the simmering sauce. Cover and cook the fish about 2 to 3 minutes on the herb side, then turn the heat up to MED HIGH, flip the fish, and continue to cook, covered for 4 to 5 minutes or until cooked through.

Uncover and add the reserved crispy bacon to the skillet to get it hot again. Between each fish fillet put some couscous, so that it cooks in the sauce. On top of everything spread out the frozen asparagus. COVER pan. If asparagus is pencil-thin, it should cook quickly, as will the couscous. You need to watch that the liquid doesn't evaporate, so if it gets low before everything is done, add a little more chicken stock.

It's done when the mahi mahi flakes apart (it's not super flaky but not dense either), the asparagus is fork-tender, and the couscous is soft and moist like rice. You could substitute rice if you're allergic to wheat, but couscous is more fun to say.

Bon appetit!

PS I have since learned that leeks are members of the onion family. I will stick with asparagus, but if you try leeks, let me know how you liked it.


Anonymous said...

I came here from Fishmama.
I always feel like I'm learning something from you. Thanks. Being similar in my cooking laziness, I took the Express Lane recipe for Lemony asparagus and salmon and simply made the rice part with leftover cooked rice. It was a hit with everyone. My husband bbq-ed salmon that night -the lemon rice was a great side.

Christina said...

I bought this cookbook, but haven't tried anything out of it yet. This looks good. By the way, I LOVE Leeks. They are much more mild than onions. They make a wonderful addition to broth and soup of any kind. I make a great Ministrone with them. Just chop them up (the white part only), saute a little with EVOO and dump in the pot.

anne said...

YUMMY! Always on the lookout for good recipes!