Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pancetta-wrapped monkfish with lemony potatoes and greens

Monkfish is a dish that sounds impressive – something that you’d have at a dinner party or restaurant. But it’s actually really easy to cook and can be packed with flavour.

For years I was slightly apprehensive about cooking monkfish, worried that I’d never be able to get it as juicy and tasty as I’d tired at restaurants (my favourite being the monkfish with crispy rice at Nick’s Restaurant in Bolton).

In fact it was only last October when Paul and I visited friends in Newquay that I cooked it for the first time – monkfish from a farmers’ market freshly caught that morning, which is ideal.

Although you can now get lovely fresh fish in supermarkets at the fish counter and if you do have a farmers market nearby, even better, it’s quite affordable too.

In our house we now have monkfish quite regularly for a healthy weekend tea which is matched perfectly with a bottle of crisp white wine such as Pinot Grigio.
It’s really easy to cook and I almost always roast it in the oven wrapped in parma ham or pancetta to enhance the taste and keep the fish moist.

As with any fish, you can get monkfish filleted and ready to cook, or just buy a tail and fillet it yourself. It’s really easy to do – I just searched for a video on YouTube and followed it step by step.

It’s just one back bone and there aren’t any of those annoying little bones that you would find with fish like haddock or sea bass.

This dish – which I’ve adapted from a Good Food Magazine recipe – is a great one to do for friends or family because it looks and tastes impressive but actually takes very little skill or time.

One monkfish tail or two fillets
300g new potatoes
100g green beans, trimmed
small broccoli head, chopped into small florets
handful of Kalamata olives
zest and juice of one lemon
olive oil
four slices of pancetta or parma ham
few sprigs of fresh tarragon

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the potatoes in a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender.
Add the green beans and broccoli for the final two to three minutes. Drain well and slice the potatoes in half.
Tip the potatoes and greens into a roomy baking dish and toss with the olives, lemon zest, olive oil and half the tarragon.
Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put in the oven.
Season the fish with a little salt and pepper and wrap each piece in the pancetta or parma ham.
Place the fish into a snug baking dish and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Put in the oven at the same time as the potatoes and cook for about 12 minutes until the fish is cooked.  
Add a squeeze of lemon and the rest of the tarragon and serve on top of the potatoes and greens.
(You could cook the fish on top of the potatoes to save washing up but I found that the juices from the fish made the potatoes slightly soggy so I find it best to keep them separate.)

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