tilefish with leeks and thyme; boiled new potatoes, herbs


like meat and potatoes, but I mean that in a good way


The previous night we had enjoyed beef, but no potatoes.  Last night it was potatoes, but no beef. There was fish, not beef, yet even if it hadn’t been accompanied by potatoes, this fish entrée would have seemed as substantial as the proverbial meal of meat and potatoes.

I think it was what happened to the leeks inside the oven that almost totally altered a dish which I had prepared and enjoyed once before, at that time with one additional ingredient (a bit of bacon, described as optional by Mark Bittman, the author of the recipe).  I had inadvertently caramelized the leeks by the time I added the fish fillets and returned the dish to the oven, and this seemed to change almost everything.

Until we sat down and tasted it I was more than a little worried, but it was a delicious surprise, and a very hearty January meal.  I’ve decided to keep both recipes:  I’ll call the original, ’tilefish fillets with leeks, version 1′, and this one, ’tilefish fillets with leeks, version 2′.

  • two leeks from Whole Foods, sliced, tossed with olive oil, spread in a glazed ceramic oven pan, roasted at 425º for 10 minutes, after which a teaspoon of chopped thyme from Stokes Farm and 1/4 cup of white wine were added, the pan returned to the oven for 20 minutes more, during which time I added more wine as it became clear the leeks were caramelizing, after those 20 minutes, 4 Tilefish fillets from Pura Vida Fisheries, seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides, were placed on top of the leeks, brushed with a little olive oil, and the pan again placed in the oven until the fish was done, the pan removed the fish garnished with more thyme, and served with the leeks
  • small red potatoes from Stokes Farm, boiled in well-salted water, drained, dried in the still-warm glass pot, halved, rolled in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with both chopped fresh winter savory and chopped fresh oregano, both from Stokes Farm
  • the wine was a French (Loire) white, Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon 2014
  • the music, suitable for a king’s supper, and our own, was Jean-Philippe Rameau’s ‘Orchestral Suites’, performed by Jordi Savall and Le Concert Des Nations