I am so happy to have finally made Halibut with Grapefruit Beurre Blanc. Why? Because this recipe starts with my favorite sentence in the entire Gourmet Cookbook: Halibut is not a strongly flavored fish and can benefit from intrigue.
Who ever wrote that sentence, I would like to kiss you.
Beurre blanc is one of those fancy French sauces that probably intimidates you, if you've ever heard of it. But really, it's pretty simple if you just watch the heat. The idea is to reduce liquid (usually some combo of citrus juice, white wine, vinegar and shallots) until you've got something thick and jammy. Then add cold butter by the tablespoon until you've got heaven in a saucepan. Here's my mis en place:
The recipe instructs you to place the sauce in a metal bowl over a saucepan of hot water to keep warm...but I've had sauce break in that scenario so I just left it on the counter, counting on the hot food to warm it back up.
The fish is simply pan-cooked with salt and pepper, then set aside in a warm oven while you saute sliced shitake caps and chopped endive and stir in reserved grapefruit segments.
I love grapefruit (and I love butter) so I wasn't surprised that this dinner hit all the right buttons for me. The citrus was a nice counterpoint to the umame of the mushrooms and the bitterness of the endive and the sauce gave the fish a nice silky coat. If you're on the fence about trying meals like this, I say go for it--learn how easy it really is to make a good sauce. Besides, haven't you already read one of those books about how French women are doing it better than we are? Make this and feel superior.
As for the intrigue--since you can see that I scarcely even mentioned the fish, I suppose it worked! It was kind of like throwing a dinner party and inviting a bunch of interesting, outspoken people to balance out your shy, sweet sister-in-law. Okay, I'm stretching here but you get the picture.