It's been a while since we've posted. We got caught up in the vacation spirit and have taken a break from photo-documenting our food. It's been great. We hope you've all had a nice holiday season as well. We + camera are back in the kitchen now, armed with a plethora of new cookbooks and few new kitchen tools (carbon steel pan and fun new meat cleaver). Last night we prepared these halibut cheeks that we found in the freezer section at PCC recently. Halibut cheeks are not incredibly common, but they can be found if you keep your eye out for them, especially here in the northwest. I've never cooked them before, and I believe I've only tasted them once, but considering our general admiration for cheeks of all varieties (pig, cow, butt, etc...), it was a no brainer. Halibut cheeks are noted for having a decidedly unfishy texture, somewhere between crab legs and lobster perhaps, with a sweet, mild flavor characteristic of the fish. I found a variety of cooking techniques for cheek: poaching, baking, sautéing, steaming. We decided to flour them lightly and pan roast them in a bit of butter. We served it on a bed of some of the things that looked good at the farmers' market yesterday and a healthy dose of some orange thyme from the garden. You can substitute any herbs or flavorings that you think would work.
Halibut Cheeks with Apples, Leeks, and Orange Thyme
Cut off the top of the leeks and wash them thoroughly. Trim the roots, then cut the leeks into 3 inch lengths. Cut them in half and slice them lengthwise into matchsticks. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring until soft, about 10 minutes. Add wine or sherry and cook until the wine is almost gone. Add the cider and salt (about ½ tsp) and gently boil until the liquid evaporates to below the level of the leeks and becomes thicker, about another 10 minutes. Peel, core, and chop the apples into small ¼-inch cubes. Add the apples, thyme and vinegar and stir for another minute or so. Season with pepper and add salt if necessary. Cover and reserve while you cook the fish. Season the cheeks with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour. Heat a skillet over medium and add butter or olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the butter is hot, add the halibut cheeks to the pan and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. The fish should sizzle gently in the pan. When the fish is lightly browned on each side, spoon a generous helping of the sauce onto each plate and top with the halibut cheeks. Serves 4
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ cup white wine or sherry
- 1¾ cups apple cider
- ½ kosher salt
- 1 tart apple, like granny smith, gala, braeburn...
- 2 Tbsp orange thyme (or english thyme or other herb)
- 2 Tbsp sherry or apple cider vinegar
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ lbs Halibut Cheeks
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- flour, for dusting