Porcini-Dusted Seared Gulf Grouper with Cayenne–Sweet Corn Puree
Grouper is prolific on the Gulf Coast. Still somewhat exotic 25 years ago, it was relegated to fine dining restaurants and was a little more obscure in its usage. Today this beast is the toast of the town everywhere. Gulf Coast seafood shacks all sport a fried, grilled, or broiled grouper sandwich. That said, it is still an outstanding choice whenever you find it. Its thick fillets flake into giant, sweet, thumb-size chunks as delicious as any cold-water white fish I have ever had. The porcini dust adds a perfume that fills the room, and the spicy-sweet corn puree provides a creamy, balanced base. This goes very nicely with a simple salad of bitter greens.
4 (6-ounce) fillets fresh grouper
3 tablespoons pure olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
5 teaspoons porcini powder (available at specialty food stores)
½ cup clarified unsalted butter (see page xxiii)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs
To cook the grouper: Drizzle the fish with the olive oil to coat thoroughly and sprinkle evenly with the salt, pepper, and porcini powder.
Heat the butter in a medium skillet. Gently place the grouper in the hot pan and brown lightly on the first side. Flip the fillets over and tilt the pan slightly so the butter accumulates on the side closest to you. Using a large spoon, baste the fish with the hot butter as the second side browns. Spoon 6 or 8 spoonfuls of the hot butter over each of the pieces, and then flip them again, spooning the butter over the other side.
Spoon the sweet corn puree (recipe follows) onto serving plates and top with the grouper fillets. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs.
Cayenne–Sweet Corn Puree
2 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter (see page xxiii)
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 cups roasted sweet corn kernels
½ teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 saffron threads (a small pinch)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cream cheese
In a small saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat and saute. The shallots and garlic until transparent. Add the corn kernels, cayenne, and cream and bring just to a simmer. Transfer this mixture to a blender and puree. Blend in the saffron, salt, pepper, and cream cheese. Set aside.
Chef suggested music pairing: Novocaine Rhapsody by Dean Gray
(* Recipe reproduced with permission from 'Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey' by John Currence -October 2013- published byAndrews McMeel- all rights reserved, Photography by Angie Mosier)