Pan-Seared Halibut with Wine-Braised Leeks
Adapted from "The New Wine Country Cookbook: Recipes from California's Central Coast" by Brigit Binns
This simple dish made with just a few flavorful ingredients is easy enough for a weeknight meal, but it can also be served for an elegant dinner party. Braise thinly sliced leeks in a mixture of chicken broth, white wine vinegar, butter, and herbs until they’re soft and almost melting. Just before the leeks are ready, sear the halibut. Serve the fish fillets over a bed of the leeks drizzled with some of the braising liquid. You won’t feel guilty following up this light dinner with a rich chocolate dessert.
- 1 1/2 pounds leeks
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or stock
- 1/2 cup medium-dry white wine
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Italian parsley sprigs
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 (4- to 6-ounce, 1- to 1-1/2-inch-thick) skinless halibut fillets
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1Trim and discard the dark green ends of the leeks, leaving about 2 inches of light green intact. Cut each leek in half lengthwise, then cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a colander, thoroughly rinse, and shake dry.
2Place the leeks, broth or stock, wine, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the butter, and the measured salt in a large frying pan over medium heat. Season with pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
3Nestle the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf into the liquid and leeks. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a piece of aluminum foil large enough to reach over the pan’s edges, and cover the foil with a tightfitting lid. Let braise until tender, about 30 minutes.
4About 5 minutes before the leeks are ready, prepare the fish: Pat both sides of the fillets dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.
5Place the remaining tablespoon of butter and the oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, swirl the pan to combine the butter and oil. Add the fillets and cook, undisturbed, until the edges begin to turn opaque and the fish releases from the pan, about 3 minutes. Using a flat metal spatula, flip the fillets and cook until firm to the touch and opaque in the middle, about 3 to 5 minutes more.
6To serve, use a slotted spoon to divide the leeks among 4 shallow bowls. Place a piece of halibut over the leeks in each bowl, spoon over the desired amount of the leek braising liquid, and sprinkle with the chives.
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