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pan-roasted-ontario-pickerel

Pan-Roasted Ontario Pickerel

Sweet, mild and tender are just a few of the attributes that have won pickerel its bragging rights as our best-tasting freshwater fish. In this recipe, as the fillets oven roast, their butter-basting sauce browns to a fragrant nutty flavour that enhances the creaminess of the fish. When the weather cools down, Sherwood Inn’s chef, Matthew Toni, serves the pickerel on a ragu medley of fresh tomato and white bean with a generous drizzling of salsa verde sauce.

Ingredients

2 skin-on pickerel fillets, about 8 oz (250 g) each
Maldon salt and ground white pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) cold butter, cut in 4 pieces
2 firm, ripe tomatoes
½ cup (125 mL) frozen green peas
2 cups (500 mL) Slow-Baked White Bean Ragu (recipe follows)
¼ cup (60 mL) Salsa Verde Sauce (recipe follows)
Micro sprouts, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). 
  2. Generously season both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Slice in half crosswise. Heat a wide ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat pan. Place fish, skin-side down, in pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook fish for 1 minute. Add cold butter to pan and swirl until melted. Tilt pan and baste fish with butter mixture. 
  3. Move skillet to the oven and bake fish until juices start to appear on top, basting several times with butter mixture in pan and without turning, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets. Remove pan from oven. 
  4. While fish is cooking, remove and discard seeds from tomatoes. Dice tomatoes and place in a medium-size saucepan with peas. Heat over medium, stirring often, until peas are hot. Ladle in bean ragu and stir gently to heat without boiling. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Spoon tomato mixture onto 2 serving plates. Using a wide metal spatula, carefully lift fish from pan and place on top of ragu. Drizzle or dot with salsa verde and garnish with sprouts. 
 
Serves 2
 
 

Slow-Baked White Bean Ragu

 

This is unlike any bean bake you have ever made. Chorizo jump-starts the taste, and if you are not going to serve it with the mild pickerel, throw in a teaspoon of thyme to add a little extra savoury flavour. Once the onion and celery are sautéed, you add the beans, slip the pan into the oven and forget about it for a few hours. Do slow-bake the beans well in advance, because their flavour is always better the next day.

Ingredients

1 large white onion
3 celery stalks, peeled
2 tbsp (30 mL) canola oil
1 to 2 chorizo sausages
6 cups (1.5 L) chicken or vegetable broth or stock
2 cups (500 mL) dried white navy beans 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). 
  2. Dice onion and celery. Heat oil in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Remove chorizo from its casing and crumble into the pan. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add broth. (Do not add salt.) Rinse beans well and stir in. Bring to a boil.
  3. Cover pan and place in oven. Bake, stirring halfway through, until beans are tender, 2½ to 3 hours. If making ahead, ragu can be left at room temperature for several hours or covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
 
Makes about 6 cups (1.5 L)
 
 

Salsa Verde

 

Experience the tangle of tastes that comes from whirling four fresh herbs with anchovies, capers and more. This is why something you spoon out of a jar can’t measure up to homemade salsa verde. And as for the leftover sauce—what a tremendous flavour booster for chicken and steak!

Ingredients

2 cups (500 mL) lightly packed Italian parsley leaves
1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed mint leaves
½ cup (125 mL) tarragon leaves
½ cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped chives
¾ cup (175 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) drained capers
5 anchovy fillets
4 coarsely chopped cloves garlic

Directions

  1. Place parsley, mint, tarragon and chives in a small heatproof sieve. Holding sieve handle, submerge herbs in a pan of boiling water for about 30 seconds. You may have to hold them down with a spoon. Remove and place in a bowl of ice water, then squeeze as much water from herbs as possible. 
  2. Turn herbs into a food processor and add olive oil, capers, anchovies and garlic. Pulse until puréed. Scrape into a bowl and set aside for at least an hour to let flavours develop, or cover and refrigerate for up to a day. 
 
Makes about 1 cup (250 mL)