HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Crispy Flounder with Pears, Endive and Meyer Lemon



         My friend, Eric Lemonides, owns Almond Restaurant in Brideghampton and a second Almond on 22nd Street in the City.  Last Monday, when I went to his Bridgehampton address for dinner, he told me that one of the great off-season successes he's had is his  "Meatless Mondays" menu.  His chef, Jason Weiner, and Jason's gifted sous chef have devised all kinds of meatless menus.  So today, in their honor, I send you a meal so that you too can celebrate Meatless Mondays.
But even if it's not Monday, if you are looking for a quick fish dinner, look no further than this recipe, from the appropriately named “Make it Tonight--Just 30 minutes to dinner, start to finish” in Fine Cooking magazine.  It combines pears and endive along with either sole, if you’re feeling posh, or flounder if you aren’t.  Either fish will do but the ingredients you really must have are the Meyer Lemons. You'll end up with a plate of sunshine in the middle of a early Spring night.  
 
         Meyer lemons are beautiful golden orbs that are smoother, rounder and deeper colored than their standard cousins.  While I would hardly call them sweet, Meyer Lemons don’t have the acid content of a regular lemon.  Now you can use regular lemons in this recipe but you could overwhelm the dish with tartness and a regular lemon would do nothing to dampen down the slightly bitter flavor of the endive.  I had seen some Meyer Lemons at Trader Joe’s and bought them on the spur of the moment, not quite sure what I was going to do with them.  This proved to be a perfect way of using them.  The dish is light and fresh, the fruit and the endive work beautifully together, the crispy fish is a perfect complement to the softened pear and endive.  But please when you make this, have plenty of chives on hand or you’ll be staring at one of the most monochromatic meals you’ve ever put on a plate. So without further ado, here is the recipe:

Recipe for Crispy Flounder with Pears, Endive and Meyer Lemon from Fine Cooking Magazine

2 small Meyer lemons 
6 Tbs. unsalted butter 
3 medium Belgian endives, trimmed and quartered lengthwise 
3 medium firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored, and sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick 
Kosher salt 
1/2 Tbs. thinly sliced chives; more for garnish 
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup fine-ground cornmeal 
4 small flounder or sole fillets (about 1-1/2 lb.) 
Freshly ground black pepper 
2 Tbs. olive oil 
1/2 cup dry white wine 

Finely grate 2 tsp. zest from one of the lemons. Squeeze 1-1/2 lemons to yield 2 Tbs. of juice. Thinly slice the remaining half and cut each slice into quarters; set aside.

In a 10- to 11-inch straight-sided sauté pan, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat until foamy. Add the endives, pears, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/2 tsp. salt; stir to combine. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the endives and pears are lightly browned in places, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chives.
While the endives and pears cook, combine the flour and cornmeal in a shallow dish. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper and then dredge it in the cornmeal mixture. Heat 1/2 Tbs. of the butter with 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 2 of the fillets, flipping once, until golden-brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with another 1/2 Tbs. butter and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and fillets. Transfer to the plate with the other fish. Wipe out the skillet again.
Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. butter in the pan until melted and browned and then stir in the lemon slices and a pinch of salt. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the pear mixture among 4 dinner plates and top with a fillet. Spoon the lemon pan sauce over the fish, garnish with chives, and serve.