All Easy Recipes. Cook all that you can cook. Poached Bass With White Butter Sauce
(Bar Pocheau Beurre Blanc)
What You Need:            (To serve 6)
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  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • cup wine vinegar
  • 3 onions, thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots, cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely cut fresh tarragon or teaspoondried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon finely cut fresh thyme or teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 10 peppercorns

  • 3- to 3-pound whole striped bass (or substitute such firm, white-meat fish as red snapper, haddock, cod, pollack, rockfish, whitefish or lake trout), cleaned and scaled, but with head and tail left on
  • Fresh parsley sprigs

  • 1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or scallions
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • pound butter, cut into 16 tablespoon-sized pieces and thoroughly chilled

  • How To Cook:
    1. COURT BOUILLON: In a 6- to 8-quart enameled or stainless-steel pot or soup kettle, bring all the ingredients for the court bouillon to a boil over high heat. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a large, fine sieve into a fish poacher or a large, deep roasting pan which has a cover, and set aside to cool.

    2. When the court bouillon is lukewarm, wash the fish inside and out under cold running water. Without drying it, wrap the fish in a long, double-thick piece of damp, washed cheesecloth, leaving at least 6 inches of cloth at each end to serve as handles for lifting the fish in and out of the pan.

    3. Twist the ends of the cloth and tie them with string, then place the fish on the rack of the poacher or roasting pan and lower the rack into the court bouillon. (If you are using a roasting pan, tie the ends of the cheesecloth to the handles of the pan.) The court bouillon should cover the fish by 1 to 2 inches; add water if necessary.

    4. Cover, and bring to a slow simmer over moderate heat; immediately reduce the heat and cook barely at a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the fish in it for another 15 minutes. Then, using the ends of cheesecloth as handles, lift the fish from the pan and lay it on a large cutting board or platter.

    5. Open the cheesecloth and skin the fish with a small, sharp knife by making a cut in the skin at the base of the tail and gently pulling off the skin in strips from tail to gill.

    6. Holding both ends of the cheesecloth, carefully lift the fish and turn it over onto a heated serving platter. Peel off the skin on the upturned side. Garnish the fish with sprigs of fresh parsley and cover the platter loosely to keep the fish warm. (The court bouillon can be refrigerated or frozen and used again as fish stock.)

    7. BEURRE BLANC: In a 1- to 2-quart enameled saucepan, bring the vinegar, wine, shallots, salt and pepper to a boil over high heat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to about 1 tablespoon it should be just a film on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and with a wire whisk immediately stir in 3 tablespoon-sized pieces of chilled butter, beating constantly until the butter is completely absorbed into the liquid.

    8. Return the pan to the lowest possible heat and add the rest of the chilled butter 1 piece at a time, whisking constantly; and making sure that each piece is absorbed before adding the next. The finished sauce will be a thick, ivory-colored cream. Serve it at once in a warm, not hot, sauceboat.

    9. To de-bone the fish for serving, divide the top layer into individual portions with a fish server without cutting through the spine. Leave the head and tail intact. Lift the portions with the fish server and a fork and arrange them attractively on another plate or platter. Then gently lift out the back-bone in one piece, discard it and divide the bottom layer of fish into individual portions.

    10. ALTERNATIVE: To serve poached bass cold, cook and skin it as described above. Cover the fish with plastic wrap or with aluminum foil and refrigerate it until it is thoroughly chilled. Serve the fish with mayonnaise eaux fines herbes,and garnish it with sprigs of fresh herbs, whole cherry tomatoes and lemon slices.

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