We are head over heels with this recent recipe Crispy Flounder with Pears, Endive, and Meyer Lemon, another from Fine Cooking’s Make It Tonight series. The flavors all melded together wonderfully to create an almost sensual sauce with a sweet lemony note, soft buttery pears and tender endive… perhaps a new holy trinity in cooking…
Smoother, rounder, and deeper in color than standard lemons, Meyer lemons are less acidic, with orange and floral flavor notes. They are plenty juicy too, because I squeezed over three whole tablespoons from just one piece of fruit. It is critical that you use Meyer lemons because regular ones are too tart and will sour you on the results. If your local supermarket doesn’t have them in stock, substitute a regular lemon but add some fresh squeezed orange juice to mellow the flavor.
When food shopping, we found that tilapia fillets were less than half the cost of flounder due to a sale at the seafood counter. Knowing that both fish are white, firm-fleshed, mild tasting, lean and flaky, we saved ourselves a few bucks and bought the tilapia. A few other tweaks included using scallion greens instead of chives (because I forgot to put them on the grocery list), and scaling back on the total amount of butter by about 20 percent.
One thing to note, after you remove the lid from cooking the pears and endive, the directions indicate the produce should start browning in places after two minutes. Well that didn’t happen for me until nearly 10 minutes, and by that time, some of the luscious juices had evaporated. It would be nice to have the best of both worlds, but if it means sacrificing that heavenly sauce for a few brown spots, I’d prefer the extra liquid in this case.
You’ll likely have a good bit of the cornmeal and flour leftover after dredging the fillets because not much sticks to the fish, which is a good thing in my opinion. Plus, I think the recipe title of “Crispy Flounder” is a bit of a misnomer on the grounds that you are sautéing the fillets as opposed to frying them, which result in browned exteriors that are not necessarily crispy. But all said and done, the dish was divine!
- 2 small Meyer lemons
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 3 medium Belgian endives, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
- 3 medium firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored, and sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 Tbs. thinly sliced chives; more for garnish
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup fine-ground cornmeal
- 4 small flounder or sole fillets (about 1-1/2 lb.)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
Pears, endive and Meyer lemons get prepped.
The endives, pears, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt are added to hot sauté pan.
Combine the flour and cornmeal in a shallow bowl, season the fish lightly with salt and pepper and then dredge it in the mixture.
Cook 2 of the fillets at a time, flipping once, until golden-brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Heat the remaining two tablespoons of butter in the pan until melted and browned and then stir in the lemon slices and a pinch of salt.
Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half.
- Finely grate 2 tsp. zest from one of the lemons. Squeeze 1-1/2 lemons to yield 2 Tbs. of juice. Thinly slice the remaining half and cut each slice into quarters; set aside.
- In a 10- to 11-inch straight-sided sauté pan, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat until foamy. Add the endives, pears, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/2 tsp. salt; stir to combine. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the lid and cook until the endives and pears are lightly browned in places, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chives.
- While the endives and pears cook, combine the flour and cornmeal in a shallow dish. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper and then dredge it in the cornmeal mixture.
- Heat 1/2 Tbs. of the butter with 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
- Cook 2 of the fillets, flipping once, until golden-brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with another 1/2 Tbs. butter and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and fillets. Transfer to the plate with the other fish. Wipe out the skillet again.
- Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. butter in the pan until melted and browned and then stir in the lemon slices and a pinch of salt. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Divide the pear mixture among 4 dinner plates and top with a fillet. Spoon the lemon pan sauce over the fish, garnish with chives, and serve.
By Melissa Pellegrino from Fine Cooking