1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup sliced blanched almonds
Vegetable oil, for frying
Four 6- to 8-ounce boneless skate wings
All-purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the parsnips and cook over moderately high heat, stirring often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the water and a pinch of salt, cover and cook over low heat until the parsnips are tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Transfer the parsnips and liquid to a blender and puree until very smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper; cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the sliced almonds in a pie plate and toast in the oven for about 7 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°. In a large skillet, heat 1/8 inch of vegetable oil. Season the skate with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Fry 2 pieces of skate over high heat until they are golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn and fry the skate until just opaque throughout, about 30 seconds longer. Transfer the skate to a large rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Fry the remaining skate.
Pour off the oil and wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and melt over high heat. Cook the butter until it starts to turn brown, about 1 minute. Add the almonds and shake the skillet. Remove the skillet from the heat and swirl in the lemon juice.
Spoon the parsnip puree onto plates and top with the skate. Drizzle the butter-almond sauce over the fish and serve.
The parsnip puree can be refrigerated in an airtight container overnight. Reheat gently over low heat, stirring, before serving.
"I don't pour a lot of local white wine," says Frank. By local he means Napa; when selecting a Chardonnay, he tends to favor the Sonoma Coast, where the cooler weather creates more refined white wines. That style works beautifully with his French-style skate and parsnip puree.
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