Georgia's State Flags,
Home of Good Eats
Two tablespoons of butter go into a skillet or fry pan over medium-low heat. One medium onion, finely chopped, goes in for a sweat. We'll add a wee pinch of salt to that.
2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
A Pinch of Salt
In the meantime, we will head down and start to work on the sauce: one cup of heavy cream, and one-quarter cup of white wine go together. And we will whisk that and put it to medium heat just to bring it to a simmer.
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup White Wine
|And we go back down to the sweat. One clove of garlic, finely minced, goes into the sweat. Give that a stir, and let that cook for another minute.||1 Clove Garlic, Minced|
|Now as soon as the cream and wine mixture comes to a bubble, we're going to slowly start adding 10 ounces of cheddar cheese, slowly. Because if we add it too quickly, it could clump. And keep whisking continuously until the first deposit has melted and integrated into the sauce. Then you can add another. Don't mess with the heat. You'll be tempted to turn it up. Don't. When the last deposit of cheese goes in, I'm going to turn off the heat and let that sit and think about what it's done.||
10 Ounces Cheddar Cheese,
|Meanwhile, we've got our sweat finished. And we're going to add to that, 10 ounces of chopped, frozen spinach which has been thawed and very well drained, and the zest of one lemon. Stir that, again, over low to medium-low heat. We really just want to let this heat through.||
10 Ounces Chopped Frozen
Spinach, Thawed &
Zest of 1 Lemon
|I'm going to add two tablespoons of chopped parsley, half of a teaspoon of kosher salt—approximate—and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. A quarter teaspoon is usually about 12 grinds out of my pepper mill, but if you want to be exact you can always pre-measure.||
2 Tbs. Fresh Parsley,
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Freshly Ground
There, now kill this heat and give the cheese sauce one last stir. At this point, everything should be turned off.
|Now, liberally season one and a half to two pounds of flounder filets with freshly ground black pepper, and of course, some kosher salt, and then evenly distribute your spinach filling across the filets. And you want to shoot for kind of the widest part of the meat and kind of just mound it up into a little pile. Again, shooting for the widest part of the filet.||
1 1/2 - 2 Pounds Flounder
There. Now when we roll, we're going to roll with a little bit of a twist so that the thin part of the tail goes up where the shoulder would have been. It makes a nice little package. And then turn that upside down so the seam will face down into the pan. There. You can see that little twist procedure. Some of the stuffing falls out, it's no big deal. You're going to lose a little. About six of them will fit into a one and a half to two-quart casserole. And just pour that cheese sauce right over the top. It won't quite cover, but it'll come close.
Slide into a 350-degree oven, and set your timer for 25 minutes.
Flatfish by any other
Now you're going to want to let this rest for about five minutes before serving. Then you can dig in. Heh heh heh heh heh. A little glass of white wine is nice, and ... [looks into the casserole dish] Hey, you know, that sure is a lot of cheesy goodness left in that pan. That ought to be on my plate. You know, if we had a ... If we could ... Can I do this again?
This time we'll start with three cups of cooked white long-grain rice in the bottom of the casserole. We'll load up the fish, just as before and pour on the sauce, just as before, and we'll cook it, just as before.
|3 Cups Cooked Rice|
Mmmm, let's try that again.
Excellent. Not only do we have the flounder goodness, the cheesy goodness,
and the spinach goodness, now the whole thing is sitting on a beautiful rice
pudding so that I don't miss a single drop of anything.
[drops a piece] Well, except that little piece.
[tastes] Mmm, excellent. [continues
to eat] I'll be back when you get a minute.
Unlike salmon or tuna or even cod, flat fish, like flounder, are very very lean. And that's good in a lot of ways. But it also means that they're very good at overcooking quickly. Now a lot of cooks try to get around this fact by poaching their flat fish. The problem is is that 180-degree water or wine can actually overcook fish just as quickly as 500-degree air or 350-degree oil. Which isn't to say that I don't believe in either oil or poaching. As a matter of fact, I like oil poaching. That's right. It's a method that the French refer to as confit, and it's got lots of advantages.
|Number one: Oil hates water. You see, the fish is full of water and if we cook it completely submerged in oil, well, the oil is a lot less likely to coax water out of the fish, right? Okay.||#1 Oil Hates Water|
|Number two: Oil "feels" moist, okay? So even if the fish were to overcook a little bit, as long as it takes a little bit of oil along the way, it'll feel moist to the mouth, okay?||#2 Oil "Feels" Moist|
Number three: Oil carries flavors. You see, it's ... Oils ... carry flavors. Come on.
|#3 Oil Carries Flavors|
|The first thing you want to do is bring three cups of olive oil up to 300 to 310 degrees over low heat.||
3 Cups Olive Oil
|Then we will face our flounder. We have about one and a half to two pounds here. That's four large filets. A little bit of salt, and a little bit of pepper on each side. Flip the fish, thusly, and we're going to be careful about cross-contamination, so I will remove this glove before getting into the salt again. Just a little seasoning, and more of the black stuff. There. Now we will leave that aside.||
1 1/2 - 2 Pounds Flounder
|Here we have two lemons, sliced, and this is going to go in the bottom of a large cast iron skillet. Oh, I know, these [lemons] are acidic, and that's a reactive vessel. But it's got a very good cure on it and the juice from these lemons is not going to hurt that. So just spread them out. We're only going to put out half of these, about one lemon's worth. They don't have to be perfect, but if they are, it's nice. And then we will add a few sprigs of parsley. We've got one large bunch here. We're just going to kind of rake those across the bottom.||
2 Lemons, Thinly Sliced
1 Large Bunch of Parsley
Now, ze feesh goes on to the little raft, so to speak, and depending on the size and shape of your filets you're going to have to make some extra room. I've got two big ones and two little ones here. They don't have to make perfect contact. We'll go with the rest of the lemohn interspersed with the rest of ze parsley.
This is going to go into a 350 degree oven. Oh, don't worry, we're going to get to the oil. We'll get to it. Come on. Now safety is a concern here. So I'm going to pull out my shelf [of the oven], place the pan thusly, and then get the oil. Just pour it all over the fish. There will be some popping sounds—not to worry—and very carefully, slide the pan in. There. Now don't touch this for 10 minutes.
Make sure your fresh
parsley is thoroughly
patted dry to prevent the hot oil from popping.
After 10 minutes in the oven,
very carefully remove your pan to the nearest stable horizontal surface and
allow it to rest for another five minutes.
Now, service relies on a nice, long fish spatula. It will help us get under the filet and remove it without breaking it into gobs of pieces. Because believe it or not, breaking up is actually very easy to do.
Now let's talk about all this oil for a second. There is a good bit left over. And since it hasn't been heated to a very high temperature, it hasn't broken down molecularly too much, so there is no reason not to use it again. Simply pour that into some kind of container. I like using an old wine bottle that's got a funnel at the top, lined with cheesecloth. That'll remove enough of the impurities and you can use it to cook any old fish you want to later on down the line.
Speaking of leftovers, you know, fish aren't exactly famous for their next-day capabilities. But in the case of our oil-poached flounder, I believe there is an application that will make this dish even better the next day. I'm speaking of a flounder salad. Let us begin.
First, we will mix together three tablespoons of white wine vinegar, one tablespoon of fresh squeezed lime juice, one half teaspoon of kosher salt, one-eighth of a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and a few good shots of your favorite hot sauce. I like mine on the hot side so I'm going to go for about 10 drops. This we will whisk together.
3 Tbs. White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbs. Freshly Squeezed
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp. Freshly Ground Black
8-10 Drops Hot Sauce
Now we're basically building a vinaigrette here. So once that comes together, we will slowly drizzle in one half cup of our leftover poaching oil that has been strained. Just work that in nice and slow. We don't need a full emulsion like for a green salad dressing. But the closer, the better the viscosity and the better the coat.
|1/2 Cup Poaching Oil|
Now trade in your whisk for a spatula and fold in one pound of the leftover poached filet. Fold that in a little. And then we have two slices of the leftover lemon that came out of that poaching pan, finely diced, two tablespoons of parsley, chopped fine, and two tablespoons of scallion. Fold to combine. There.
1 Pound Leftover Poached
2 Leftover Lemon Slices,
2 Tbs. Fresh Parsley,
2 Tbs. Chopped Scallion
Now, once you've got this mixed, you've got something that you can refrigerate for, eh, two to three days. And you know what? With a couple of crackers and a fork, you've got yourself one heck of a meal for one or for four depending on how hungry everybody is. Believe it or not, this is just about the finest fish salad a man can make. Sorry, Charlie.
If I've said it once, I've said it nine times: be it pizza or pancake, flank or flounder, flat is beautiful. As for our friend here, well, he's got the advantages or not needing to be pressed, pounded, or pirouetted in any way. He's already good and flat. But what he lacks in depth, he makes up for in flavor. See you next time.
Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger
Last Edited on 08/27/2010