A half hour dish that tastes like a lot of fussing!
I love making a little fuss on Friday nights, a celebration of the beginning of the weekend! My sister usually comes over, sometimes we invite a couple of friends too. While it is great to begin with a feast, sometimes we’re a little tired if we’ve been really busy. This recipe doesn’t require fuss, but it certainly looks and tastes like it does. It comes together quickly, and finish time from start to finish is determined not by the star of the dish, the fish, but by how long it takes to cook the polenta.
Try something a little different
My local fish monger suggested some just-in grouper on a recent Friday night. Not a fish I see often in our markets, so I thought I’d give it a try. He said I would not be disappointed, and I wasn’t. The filets were relatively small as grouper goes, and they were sweet and tender.
If you can’t find grouper, you can substitute any number of firm white fish. Halibut would be a great substitute, as would catfish. The fish will release lots of its juices to the pan which you will use as the finish sauce. So delicious!
A Friday night ritual
Tuck the fish in the oven and set the polenta on to simmer. Take a few minutes to put on some great music, dig out the best dishes, light a candle, and pour a glass of something delicious. You deserve it!
Baked Grouper with Herbs over Polenta
- 2 Grouper filets, about a pound
- 2 tbsp. fruity olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp. oregano
- ½ tsp. salt
- Few grinds of black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (180 C.), and drizzle the olive oil evenly on the bottom.
Mix together the garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pat the filets dry, then sprinkle both sides with the spice mixture.
Place in the pan, top with the cherry tomatoes, and drizzle the wine around the sides of the pan.
Bake until the fish is tender, check at 20 minutes. A knife inserted in the thickest part will offer no resistance.
While the grouper is cooking, prepare your polenta according to the package directions, or follow my recipe using the cornmeal sitting on your shelf. You can also use grits, rice, or another favorite grain.
When the fish is done, rest it on the polenta and drizzle the sauce from the pan over all. Dot with a few fresh herbs.
If you have some cornmeal on the shelf, you have polenta waitings, although we called it corn meal mush when I was a kid in New England.
In a large saucepan, bring one quart of water, fish or vegetable stock to a boil. Sprinkle in 1 cup medium stone-ground cornmeal, a little at a time, whisking all the while so it does not clump.
Once all the cornmeal is whisked in, reduce the heat and whisk every now and then to keep it from sticking. This will take around 20-30 minutes to cook, more or less, depending on the variety and coarseness of grind. If it starts to get too thick before it is cooked (smoother in texture) add a bit of water. Taste for salt.
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