A savory mushroom and potato ragout flavored with leeks, herbs, and stock provides the foundation for golden seared halibut. This ragout could be made with ordinary chicken stock, rather than mushroom and herb-infused stock, and it would taste good. But in cooking, you often can take an extra step that elevates the food to a new level. Adding the mushrooms and thyme makes a noticeable difference in the finished dish-and it doesn’t involve a lot of work. An excellent idea for a dinner party, this allows you to prepare components ahead of time, even to sear the fish, then combine everything just before serving.
NotesThe green part of leeks is tougher than the white, but cooking in stock will tenderize it. Leek green taste less oniony than the White bulbs and add color to the ragout.
Order of preparation:
• Cook the potatoes, cool, and slice.
• Prepare the mushroom broth.
• Cook the leeks and mushrooms.
• When you are ready to sear the fish, combine the potatoes, leeks, and broth.
• While the broth warms, cook the fish.
• The potatoes can be refrigerated up to 1 day (they will be easier to slice if they have been cooked and cooled).
• The mushroom broth can be refrigerated up to 1 day.
• The seared fish can be kept at room temperature on a lightly oiled baking sheet, herb-side up, for up to 1 hour; or refrigerated up to 3 hours and brought to room temperature before finishing in the oven.
Cooking Methodpan-frying, roasting
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free
Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, juicy, savory, umami
- 6 baby potatoes (creamers, red new potatoes, or Yukon golds)
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces white domestic mushrooms, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 12 shiitake mushrooms, stems reserved and caps cut into ¼-inch slices
- 1¾ cups Chicken Stock or low-salt canned chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
- 2 leeks, green part only, well washed and cut on the diagonal into ½-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 halibut steaks or fillets, 6 ounces each
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, savory, or parsley)
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
- 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
For the ragout:
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with cold, salted water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and cut each potato into 6 pieces.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over high heat until just smoking. Add the white mushrooms and shiitake stems and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 15 minutes, until the broth is full-flavored. Strain the broth, discarding the solids.
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until just smoking and sauté the shiitake caps until light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the leeks and butter, cover, and cook until the leeks are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Add the potatoes to the leek mixture, stir in the mushroom broth, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
For the halibut:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Season the fish with salt and pepper and sprinkle on one side with the fresh herbs and herbes de Provence.
In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the fish, herb-side down, and sear until golden. Place in the oven and roast without turning until opaque and medium rare, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness. Alternatively, you can continue to cook the fish on top of the stove, turning once, until medium-rare, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Divide the ragout among 4 warm, shallow serving bowls and top with a halibut fillet. Serve immediately.
Serve mushroom ragout with:
Snapper, instead of Potato Galette and Port Wine Sauce
Salmon, instead of Lentils and Red Wine Sauce
Roasted cod, instead of Confit Bayaldi
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1996 Debra Ponzek and Joan Schwartz