In Praise of the February Braise
Braising is one-pot cooking at its finest and this halibut dish is a simple and comforting way to usher in February in Vancouver. While I would not normally buy halibut out of season, I found this recipe online at redonline and decided to test it with halibut fillets. The combination of smokey, spicy chorizo sausage, garbanzo beans (the original recipe called for chickpeas which are similar but smaller), and tomatoes, produces a deep and complex flavour that would complement many less expensive types of fish and chicken too. We ate this with a crunchy baguette to dip into the sauce.
Braising is a combination cooking method using both dry and moist heat and one pot from start to finish. Mostly, this method is used to slowly cook tough cuts of meat to tenderize them while producing a flavourful sauce. The difference in this recipe is that the sauce is cooked for an hour to develop its flavour, then the fish is added, making it a good dish for entertaining because you can make the sauce hours or even a day in advance, then reheat it on the stove, plunk in the fish and finish in the oven.
Here I have used a copper casserole that belonged to my mother, but any heavy pan with a snug lid will work as long as it is large enough to accommodate the fish in one layer.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 ½ hours
2 links Spanish or Mexican chorizo, cooked or uncooked
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1-14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. dry white wine
2 c. chicken stock
4 x 6oz. thick fillets halibut
2 T. fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat a flameproof casserole dish until medium hot, then add the chorizo and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oil is released. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and tomatoes and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and stir well, then add the white wine and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Cover with the lid and bake in the oven for one hour, then remove and place the halibut on top of the chickpeas. Cover again and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, or until just opaque. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes before removing the lid.
Carefully lift out the fish and place in individual shallow bowls. Stir the parsley into the chickpeas, season with salt and pepper, and serve alongside the fish.