Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RECIPE - Grilled Escalope of Namorado (Escalope de Namorado Grelhado)

Namorado (Brazil's "boyfriend" fish) can be successfully cooked in many different ways, and takes to a large number of different saucing treatments. Like sole, halibut and dorado, similar mild-flavored white-fleshed fish, the fact that the fish doesn't have an assertive flavor profile means that the sauce, with its own ingredients and flavor, can step forward into the limelight without seeming to upstage the fish.

A good example is this recipe for grilled namorado escalopes served in a intensely-flavored sauce of leeks, bacon and mushrooms with white wine, butter and cream. Of a distinctly classical French inspiration - obvious from the list of ingredients - this elegant dish would make a superb main course at an intimate dinner party, or even a dinner for two.

The original recipe, from the Brazilian TV network GNT, calls for namorado. As mentioned in yesterday's post on Flavors of Brazil this fish, called sandperch in English, isn't likely to be available at North American or European fishmongers. Please feel free to substitute any other white-fleshed fish of your choice.

Note: Escalope is the French word for a thick slice cut from a fillet of fish, weighing about 6 oz or 150 gr. You can ask your fishmonger to cut them for you, or cut them yourself from a while fillet, using a sharp knife. They should be cut from the thickest part of the fillet, and are usually about 3" wide more or less, depending on the thickness of the fillet.
RECIPE - Grilled Escalope of Namorado (Escalope de Namorado Grelhado)
Serves 4

4 namorado escalopes, or other white-fleshed fish (see note above about escalopes)
3 medium sized leeks, white parts only, thinly-sliced
3/4 lb (375 gr) fresh button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
4 oz (100 gr) slab bacon, about 1/4 inch thick, cut into small cubes
3 oz (80 gr) butter
a few sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion
2 cups (500 ml) light fish bouillon
6 oz (160 gr) butter, cut into small cubes, refrigerated
1/3 cup (80 ml) whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Cut the onion into quarters and combine with half of the white wine and half of the fish bouillon in a small sauce pan. Bring to the boil and cook rapidly to reduce the volume of liquid by 1/3. Remove from heat, discard the onion and reserve the liquid.

Heat a non-stick frying pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil. When the oil is hot briefly cook the fish escalopes on both sides, just until they begin to take color. Remove them from the heat and place in an oven-proof casserole dish. Top each escalope with a sprig of thyme. Pour half of the white wine and half of the fish bouillon around the fillets, but not over them.

Put the casserole dish in the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove and reserve, keeping warm.

Melt 3 oz (80 gr) butter in a medium frying pan with a cover. Add the sliced leeks. Season with salt and pepper and a few thyme leaves. Toss well to coat the leeks with butter, then cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the leeks are softened. In another small frying pan, fry the bacon cubes until crispy, then add the mushroom quarters and cook until the mushrooms give up their juice.

Add the bacon and mushrooms to the softened leeks, then stir in the chopped chives. Cover and reserve.

Reheat the reduced wine/bouillon mixture. Stir in the cream and continue to heat just to the boiling point. Whisk in the cubes of cold butter, stirring vigorously and making sure each is melted before adding another. Season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the dish: In a deep dinner plate place one quarter of the leek, bacon and mushroom mixture. Top with an escalope of fish. Divide the sauce among the four plates, pouring over all in the plate. Serve immediately.

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