At his neighborhood bistro Le Pantruche, Paris chef Franck Baranger makes this elegant seafood dish with pollack, an inexpensive cod-like fish, to hold down the prices on his blackboard menu. The onion sauce is an updated version of the traditional French soubise, but made with beer and without milky béchamel sauce.
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3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons cold butter, halved
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup white beer or pilsner
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Four 6-ounce skinless cod fillets
Piment d'Espelette or hot paprika, for sprinkling
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beer, cover and cook over low heat until the onion is very soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the onion in a sieve set over a heatproof bowl; reserve the cooking liquid.
Transfer the onion to a blender and puree until smooth. Scrape the onion puree into a small saucepan and season with salt and white pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Return the onion cooking liquid to the saucepan. Boil over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Swirl in the 2 tablespoons of cold butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and white pepper.
Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the cod in the dish and drizzle with olive oil; rub the oil all over the fish. Season the cod with salt, white pepper and piment d'Espelette and sprinkle with the thyme. Bake for about 15 minutes, basting a few times with the pan juices, until the cod is just opaque throughout.
Gently reheat the onion puree and onion sauce; do not let the sauce boil. Spoon the onion puree onto plates. Set the cod on the puree and spoon the onion sauce on top. Serve right away.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 up to 1 day ahead; refrigerate the onion puree and reduced onion cooking liquid separately.
Thierry Puzelat, an organic winemaker in the Loire Valley, produces wines made from several grape varieties, but his strong suit may be his Sauvignon Blancs. They have incredible density and flavor not often found in the varietyfantastic with this bold fish dish. Look for one of Puzelat's bottlings from the Touraine region.
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