raie meunière with mushrooms, spruce tips; spinach, garlic

I’m a fan.

Fish. At this point, I think I can say that for me the only remaining problematic thing about cooking fish may be the part when you have to turn it over inside a pan. I did pretty well this time, in spite of the size of the skate wings, thanks to the availability of a perfectly suitable large pan, and the small collection of various kinds of spatulas I’ve been assembling.

But the exciting bits about this meal, aside from the very fresh skate (‘raie‘ in French, ‘ray’ in British English), were the chestnut mushrooms, and the extremely rare appearance (here, or almost anywhere for that matter) of the spruce tips I’d found at the Greenmarket a few days before. They worked together beautifully, even though the fungi, in spite of their appearance, were cultivated, and not wild.

The recipe that inspired my own efforts Wednesday night was this one by Jacques Pepin.

  • two skate wings (aka raie or ray), or exactly one pound altogether, from American Seafood Company, seasoned with salt and pepper, dredged in whole wheat flour from The Blew family of Oak Grove Plantation in Pittstown, N.J., added to a heavy round 13″ antique French copper pan, and sautéed in a little olive oil and butter (2 tablespoons combined) over a medium-high flame for less than 4 minutes on one side, turned and cooked for the same amount of time on the other, or just until the skate was cooked through, arranged on the plates and 4 ounces of small ‘chestnut mushrooms’ from from Gail’s Farm in Vineland, Herkimer County, New Jersey, most not sliced at all, other than separating the stems from the tops, added to the drippings in the pan and cooked for just  about a minute (they should still be firm), while adding a little butter and oil, since the pan was pretty dry, seasoned with salt and pepper and scattered on the top or edges of the skate, then, after half a tablespoon of organic Whole Food Market lemon had been squeezed over all, and a tablespoon or so of butter that had been melted in a small antique iron porringer until foamy and brown poured on top, the dish garnished with a generous amount of chopped fresh spruce tops that had been foraged by Violet Hill Farm
  • one bag of spinach from Tamarack Hollow Farm, washed in several changes of water, drained, very gently wilted (that is, trying not reduce it too far) inside a large, heavy, antique high-sided tin-lined copper pot in a little olive oil in which 3 spring garlic cloves from Lani’s Farm had first been allowed to soften, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, finished on the plates with a little more olive oil
  • the was was a French (Burgundy/Chablis) white, Jean-Marc Brocard – Chablis Domaine Sainte Claire 2018, from 67Wine
  • the music was an album including 8 decades of music by women composers, ‘Zeitgeist: If Tigers Were Clouds’