White Wine–Poached Fish

Awards Season
My daughter is graduating from high school at the end of the month. For those of you who have been through it, you know that this means that the last month of school is filled with AP Tests, Ditch Days, and plenty of awards banquets. It is a lot of fun, but also just…a lot. Throw in birthdays for four of the five members of my family and, yeah. We are busy, y’all.

I am a weirdo in that I love awards nights/banquets. I mean sure, of course, you are going to enjoy seeing your kids and their friends succeed at something and achieve their goals. But, it extends into other areas for me as well.

The morning they announce the Oscar nominations I am right there making a list of the movies I have and have not seen so that I can make a point to seek the films I missed before the big night. I try my best to see them all. And, I am alarmingly disappointed when I can’t manage to do it. Life tends to get in the way of my fixation.

I am equally as obsessed about the James Beard Awards.

My anticipation of the James Beard Foundation Awards might seem obvious to most people since my days consist of talking about food, writing about food, and selling food. So, my interest in awards which honor talking about food, preparing food, and writing about food is rather on the nose. I anticipate their release every year and use the lists of nominees, semi-finalists, and finalists to educate myself on who and what is hot in the industry. And, let’s be real, create a wish list of new cookbooks or future dinner reservations.

If you are curious, this year’s list of James Beard Foundation Awards Finalists can be found here. Get your planner out before you click…and don’t do it when hungry!

Lest we forget, James Beard himself was a force in the culinary world. And, he eventually came to be known as the Dean of American Cuisine. If you don’t have a copy of his American Cookery in your library, consider seeking it out.

White Wine–Poached Fish Recipe
Adapted from James Beard
Yields 4 servings

I am all for drinking and cooking with simple wines that don’t cost an arm and a leg, said James Beard. In this simple and comforting recipe, the wine gives the sauce its subtle delicacy.

1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 small onion, divided in half
Small bunch of parsley, divided
Kosher salt
4 large or 8 small fish fillets, such as Dover sole
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Suggested for serving
Boiled potatoes
Chopped spinach

Warm a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet in the oven.

Poach the fish
Fill a large sauté pan with 1 inch of water. Add the white wine, onion, and 3 to 4 parsley sprigs. Finely chop the remaining parsley and set it aside.

Bring the pan to a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and carefully add the fish fillets. Cook until the fish is just cooked through* (about 5 minutes)

Transfer the fillets to the baking dish in a single layer and set them aside.

Reduce the liquid
Strain the poaching liquid, reserve 1 cup, and pour the remainder back into the pan. Simmer the liquid on medium-high until it is reduced by half.

Make the sauce
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Blend in the flour using a whisk, and cook until thickened (about 2 to 3 minutes). Slowly stir in the reduced poaching liquid while continuously whisking.

Add the heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, tarragon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir and simmer (about 3 to 4 minutes). Taste for seasoning and adjust.

Finish the dish
Pour the sauce over the fish, sprinkle it with grated Parmesan cheese, and run the dish under the broiler until golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes). Watch carefully as it can easily burn.

When poaching the fish, you can use the timing principle of 10 minutes per inch of thickness measured at the thickest point.

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