Grouper with tomato basil cream sauce

Servings: 2

1 pound grouper fillet, skin removed (the skin is strongly flavored and tough, so be sure to take it off before cooking)

All-purpose flour

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Extra light tasting olive oil

Fresh minced parsley, for garnish (optional)

Fresh basil leaf, for garnish (optional)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Dredge grouper in all-purpose flour that has been seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Shake off excess; set aside. Heat oil to a depth of 2 inches in a medium size stovetop/ovenproof skillet or baking dish over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry grouper on all sides to brown lightly. (Oil is hot enough when a 1-inch cube of bread browns when dropped into the oil.) Remove fish from oil, discarding the oil. Return fish to the skillet, then set pan aside to make the sauce.

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup dry white wine

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup light cream (or half-and-half)

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Salt and fresh ground pepper

1 medium tomato, skinned, seeded and chopped, directions follow

3 large fresh basil leaves, cut into strips (chiffonade), directions follow

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Sauté onion 3 minutes or until soft. Whisk in flour and cook for two minutes. (You’ve now made a “roux.”) Add wine, water and mustard, whisking until thick. Lower heat to low, add cream and cheese and stir just until cheese is melted. Remove pan from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in tomato and basil.

Pour sauce over fish and bake for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Turn oven to broil and broil briefly, just long enough to brown sauce a golden brown. For serving, garnish with minced parsley and a basil leaf, if desired.

*Kitchen Ade note: To easily peel tomatoes, first core and remove the white middle, then cut an “x” into the bottoms. Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds (depending on size or quantity of tomatoes), then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process (this is called “blanching.”). Using the edge of a sharp knife, peel off the skin. To remove the seeds, cut the tomato in half (along its “equator”). Using your finger, a tomato corer or a quarter-teaspoon measuring spoon, scoop out the seeds.

An efficient way to cut fresh basil leaves into strips is to first stack the leaves into a neat pile followed by rolling them into a tight, cigar-shaped cylinder. Using a scissor, snip the basil into thin slices. This is called basil “chiffonade.”

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