You would think I made this meal for a special occassion, wouldn’t you? Actually, it was a Wednesday. And ‘no’ I most certainly do not spend hours preparing weeknight meals. Believe it or not, this halibut and clam dish is just about as easy as it gets. We love seafood, but live in land-locked Minnesota. We’re about as far from the ocean as one can get in this country. Fortunately, we have a good seafood import market near our house. I picked up the halibut and clams, and spent a total time in the kitchen of about 30 minutes. We lit a candle in the center of our table– our ritual that makes the meal feel special– and sat down to this beautiful weeknight dinner.
Halibut is one of my favorite fish. It’s so silky, and works wonderfully in this flavorful dish. The clams (which Aanen loved!) add a nice briny flavor, while the mushrooms and leeks lend a deep earthiness. And don’t forget the butter. It flavors the broth and gives a creamy texture to the whole meal. I actually cut back on the butter a bit when I made this dish, but feel free to add a few more tablespoons if you like. This is a great meal to pair with a white wine for a romantic weekend dinner, but it’s also so easy to prepare that you can make it anytime– even a Wednesday night.
The Recipe: Braised Halibut with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Clams
3 tablespoons butter
1 large leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 pound fresh Halibut, skin removed (preferably wild)
1 pound Littleneck or Manila clams, scrubbed
about 2 cups crimini mushrooms, quartered (oyster or hen-of-the- woods are good substitutes)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
sea salt and cracked black pepper
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large 12-inch straight-sided sauté skillet with a lid. Add the mushrooms, garlic clove, and leeks; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add the broth, raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.
Season the halibut with salt and pepper. Nestle the fish and the clams in the skillet. Bring the broth back to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce heat to low. Cook gently until the fish is just cooked through and the clams have opened, about 7 minutes. If all of the clams are not open, remove the fish and the opened clams and continue cooking until the remaining clams open, another 2-3 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened by this time. Stir in the lemon zest and sprinkle with the parsley.
Serve the fish and clams in a shallow bowl topped with the delicious broth and vegetables. Enjoy with a piece of crusty bread and glass of a nice white wine.
Adapted from Fine Cooking Soups & Stews Magazine, 2010
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