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Grilled Swordfish with Balsamic Brown Butter Sauce and Zucchini Risotto

August 8, 2007

Swordfish and Risotto

None of my pictures of last night’s dinner turned out well, because the light in our kitchen is truly crappy, but trust me, it was excellent. This was one of those multiple-pan feats of timing in which everything came together and ended up being one of my best efforts yet. Which was made even better considering I was nervous about my risotto and the sauce was untried and my grill pan experiences have been hit or miss in the past. Yeah, there was some kitchen magic going on last night. Thank god, too, because Miss Crystal had a shitty, shitty day and I like to think that setting a plate of spectacular food in front of her played some small part in making it better. Isn’t that why we feed people, after all?

The swordfish was bought frozen from Trader Joe’s. I know many people are opposed to frozen fish, completely and totally dedicated to only the freshest of the fresh. But you know? I’ve always been happy with the frozen fish from Trader Joe’s. The texture is always just right, the flavor just what I expect. Of course, I’ve never been much of a fish eater, so what do I know? What I do know is that two fat swordfish steaks cost me $7 at Trader Joe’s and I am pretty dang sure that would not have been the case elsewhere.

The sauce recipe is from Epicurious and Bon Appetit. Actually, apparently it’s from a restaurant called Renato’s in Palm Beach. I wasn’t completely sold at first, but after tasting it with the fish and the risotto, well, let’s just say it might become a kitchen staple. And the risotto? I was a little worried at first because it seemed to be cooking too fast and something just felt wrong but it turned out to be one of my best, I think. I used white balsamic vinegar instead of wine to deglaze the pan, and finished it off with pecorino romano instead of parmesan, which added an interesting bite and just slightly different flavor.

And the grill pan–for the first time it didn’t smoke up my kitchen or burn my food or stick to everything I put on it. I’m not sure what the difference was, but the swordfish was perfect. My grill pan and I have been a little slow to warm to each other, but it might be true love, after all.

Grilled Swordfish with Balsamic Brown Butter Sauce

  • 2 swordfish steaks, about 1 inch thick (I cooked two, but Crystal and I split one between the two of us and it was enough)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 c. butter (half a stick)
  • about 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 T. honey
  • 1/2 T. maille or dijon mustard

Brush both sides of the swordfish steaks with olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. I only salted and peppered one side of each steak, and I used a lot more pepper than salt.

Heat the grill pan (or a real grill, if you’re lucky), and when it’s nice and hot, brush it with olive oil. I had my grill pan sitting over medium-high heat at first, and once it got hot I lowered the heat to a little less than medium. Throw the swordfish on the pan/grill and let it cook for about five minutes on each side, perhaps a little longer if they are especially thick.

While they are grilling, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Gently swirl the skillet constantly over the flame, keeping the butter moving in the pan, and cook the butter until it starts to smell kind of nutty. When it just starts to turn a little brown, remove it from the heat and whisk in the balsamic, honey, and dijon. Return it to a low heat for just a minute or two to finish it off, and you’re done. Just pour it over the swordfish and serve.

The sauce was a really nice compliment to the risotto, too–it’s slight sweetness and acidity gave a nice tang to the whole creamy, buttery dish.

Bad picture of fish

As for the zucchini risotto, I followed a basic risotto recipe and added the sliced zucchini at the very end, with the butter and cheese. Then I covered the whole dish and removed it from the heat, and let it sit for a few minutes to kind of steam the zucchini. It was perfect.  The only real variation was that instead of a third of a cup of wine at the beginning, I added just a small splash of white balsamic vinegar. Perfect.

Now, what this site needs, I think, is a page that contains all of those basic recipes: Pizza dough, risotto, bechamel, what have you, all in one place. I’ll have to start thinking about that. That could be something of a project. And god knows, in the next three weeks when I am officially out of work, I’ll probably need something of a project.

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