Monday, March 7, 2011

Court Bouillon

Court bouillon just sounds fancy. And I would like to say that it is, but it's not. I was searching for a poached fish recipe today and came across Halibut in Spiced Court Bouillon. It had good reviews and was pretty simple, plus I had all the ingredients on hand.

I decided to do a little investigation into court bouillon -- What is it? What are it's origins? How did the name come about. A quick web search was not particularly informative, although I did find that Alton Brown did a full episode on poaching which included court bouillon. Alas, the episode was not online. Here is what I do know: it is essentially a quick stock using the traditional mirepoix. However the stock includes wine, vinegar, or lemon juice. The acid from the wine (or other option) serves two purposes: it helps draw out the flavor from the vegetable in order to reduce cooking time, and it holds the fish together (think of the same idea as adding vinegar to the water when you poach an egg).

The recipe I found calls for ground coriander and cloves which are not typical spices added to court bouillon. In fact, I omitted the ground coriander, but kept the cloves. Other aromatics such as thyme, tarragon, even, perhaps, lavender may be added. I kept this relatively simple since I had not done it before, but I feel confident that I could make it my own quite easily.

One change I did make was substituting chicken stock (homemade) for the wine in the original recipe, and I added the juice of one lemon to compensate for the missing acid. I did this only because we are on the crazy "no alcohol food plan" (can you tell I'm ready for it to be over? four more days!).

Big J brought some very nice grouper home from the fish market. I didn't quite know what to think because I haven't had much grouper and I've never cooked it at home. But it turned out to be a very mild, savory fish that even little j (who, up until now, only liked her grandmother's crappie) liked; in fact, she had seconds -- a first for us. I did find that because the fillet was of varying thickness that it didn't cook evenly, so next time I will be more attentive.

I paired the poached grouper with some Black Japonica rice and steamed green beans. The only thing that would have made it better would have been glass of Cardinal Point A6 with the meal -- 4 days!

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