My love affair with Ad Hoc at Home continued this weekend as I prepared Thomas Keller's Roasted monkfish with baby leeks and Romesco Sauce. Romesco is a Spanish sauce made with tomato, red pepper, bread, and a few other ingredients. It's a sauce I've made many times before, typically served on grilled scallions. Keller's recipe was slightly different so I tried his for a change. It was delicious - a bit sweeter than my other recipe.
I couldn't find baby leeks, so I got some regular leeks, trimmed the roots leaving the bottoms intact so the leeks didn't fall apart and then follow the recipe in Ad Hoc for Baby leeks. The fish I did exactly as he said, but cooked mine a bit longer - the pieces of fish were quite thick as you can see from the picture. Flown in fresh that morning, this was the best monkfish we've ever had. I thank both my fish guy who special ordered it for me as well as Chef Keller!
Pair this fish with other sides or sauces if you prefer. It's a great preparation that would go nicely with any number of combinations. Bottom line, follow Keller's method and you simply can't go wrong! I cut the recipes in half and made a few modifications, so my version are below. The fish is exactly Keller's but with half the ingredients. The others I modified a bit...
adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
2 8-ounce monkfish tail fillets
Canola oil (to coat the pan)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
3 medium rosemary sprigs
Romesco sauce, warmed (see below)
Baby leeks (see below)
Remove the fish from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until it just smokes. Season the fish with salt then place it in the pan, presentation side down (the rounded side). Cook until the first side is pale golden. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the second tablespoon and let that melt (adding them at the same time could lower the temperature in the pan). Once the butter has browned, tilt the pan and baste the fish as you continue to cook it until it is a rich golden brown on the first side, 1-2 more minutes.
Turn the fish over and cook, basting continuously with the butter, until it is a rich golden brown on the second side, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary to the pan, and continue to baste the fish as the aromatics flavor the butter. Cook until the temperature in the center of the fish is 145F. (Keller says 1-2 minutes, mine took about 5).
Spread the Romesco on a plate. Top with a few leeks. Then place the fish on top. If you want, finish with some good extra virgin olive oil and Maldon Sea Salt.
12 baby leeks, or 4 regular leeks, trimmed and halved lengthwise so they don't fall apart
3 Tbsp. chicken stock
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath. Set out a cooling rack and line with paper towels.
Trim the dark green parts from the leeks and rinse well under warm water. Blanch the leeks for about 6 minutes until just tender. Immediately transfer to the ice water bath to cool, then place on the rack to drain.
Remove the outer layer from each leek. Bring the stuck to a simmer in a medium saute pan. Whisk in the butter one piece at a time to make an emulsification. Add the leeks and season to taste with salt and pepper.
1 dried sweet chile (I used New Mexico, but Nora or Pasilla would also work)
3 plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
1/2 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
1 garlic clove
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 crustless 2-in cubes country bread
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. sherry vinager
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
3/4 tsp. piment d'espelette (I used a pinch of cayenne and a pinch of smoked paprika instead)
Preheat over to 400F.
Remove the seed and stem from the chile. Put it in a small bowl, cover with warm water and soak for 30 minutes.
Put the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and garlic ina roasting pan and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Turn the tomatoes and pepper cut side down. Roast for one hour, until the vegetables are well-browned with some charring. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Remove the skins from the tomatoes and pepper. Discard the outer layer of the onion. Reserve any liquid in the pan.
Heat some canola oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the bread and toast until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan. Add the nuts and toast until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.
Drain the chile. Put it in a blender with the tomatoes, pepper, onion, garlic, and reserved liquid. Blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes about 1 cup. Refrigerate covered for up to 2 weeks.