Monday, October 24, 2011

Mon petit choux, how I love you


 So the fall season is fully upon us - I've whipped out my scarves and gloves already, and my coats have gotten more than their fair share of usage.  The air's turned a bit crisp (and smells like winter - oh no!), the leaves are starting to fall, and Halloween is just around the corner.  With that, our cooking tends to turn towards more comforting, home-y and warm-spiced goodness.  Stews, soups, and long roasting take the lead.  Or, if you're like me, tagines come into handy.  Just a year ago, I serenaded Moroccan cooking - perfect for this time of year! The winter vegetables and fruits are bountiful.  Sweet potatoes, squashes, and apples (oh my!) AND, one of my favorites, cabbage! Granted, I use cabbage all year round, but there's something about Fall that just makes me crave braised red cabbage.  And braise away I did.   Braised red cabbage is always super delicious, gorgeous on the plate (purple!) and beyond that, it is ridiculously good for you! Read: tons of antioxidants - thank you anthocyanin.  The other great thing is that you can combine it with just about anything - pork, veal, beef, fish, duck, chicken - you name it! My fishmonger had some particularly good looking grouper today, so grouper it was. 

Mustard Crusted Grouper with Braised Red Cabbage
Serves 4
2 lb grouper fillets, or other firm white fish, skinned and portioned (preferably from the shoulder end)
1/4 C Greek yogurt
1/4 C whole grain mustard
2 T capers, chopped
Salt and pepper

For the cabbage:
1 head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1-2 firm apples, depending on the size, julienned (Fuji, Macintosh, Pink Lady, etc.)
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup chicken or turkey broth
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste


Begin by preheating the oven to 400F. Prepare a baking pan or dish for the fish by lining it with foil.  Next, begin cooking the cabbage. Heat a medium to large sauce pot (big enough to hold all the cabbage) over medium-low heat, and allow to come to temperature.  Heat the olive oil until it shimmers, and add the onion.  Allow the onions to cook until they are soft and slightly caramelize, then add in the julienned apple.  Cook until soft.  Next, toss in the red cabbage and allow it to saute for about a minute, stirring often.  Pour in the apple cider vinegar, stir a few times, then pour in your stock. Give it a quick stir, cover the pot, and allow the cabbage to cook for at least 20 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid remaining, turn the heat to high and allow it to reduce until it's almost gone. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and fresh ground black pepper as needed. This recipe will produce a lot of braised cabbage, but it's epically delicious as leftovers!

Now onto the fish!  Amply sprinkle each fillet with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, mustard, and capers and stir until combined.  If you don't have whole grain mustard, you can definitely use Dijon, but I like the added pop of the mustard seeds! Spread a layer of the mustard mixture over the top of each fish fillet.  Bake the fish for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness, until it is just cooked through.   Place the fish under the broiler for the final minute or two of cooking to brown the mustard coating.  If you're unsure when the fish is done, you can use the Ripert technique - stick a metal skewer into the center of a fillet and touch it to your lip - if it's warm, but not hot, it's done! 


At this point, both the cabbage and fish should be ready for plating.  Spoon a hefty amount of the cabbage onto a plate, and top with the baked fish.  I finished mine with a bit of fresh tarragon which added a nice nuance to the flavor profile, but it's just as delicious as is!

Such a tasty dish! The flavor combination is divine - the braised cabbage has a great depth of flavor, but is brightened by the acidity of the apple cider vinegar.  The mustard coating on the fish is just enough to give a bit of bite, but isn't so strong that it overpowers the flavor of the fish itself.  Altogether, the mustard and cabbage combination lead to a dish that just as pleasing on the palate as it is on the eyes! Definitely give this dish a try when you're in the mood for a hearty, but not overly filling meal.  Or, at least braise yourself some cabbage to have on hand!

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