- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 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
- 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.
"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.