Bread-Crusted Halibut with Leek Ragoût and Red Pepper Purée

In this novel preparation, Chicago chef Bruce Sherman creates a crisp and buttery crust for halibut filets using sliced white bread.

Bread-Crusted Halibut with Leek Ragoût and Red Pepper Purée
This recipe uses sliced white bread to create a crisp and buttery crust for the halibut filets.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 12 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • Dash of Tabasco
  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. chicken stock
  • 4 (6-oz.) boneless skinless halibut filets
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 4 (1⁄4"-thick) slices dense white bread
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup mesclun greens
  • 4 tsp. aged balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425°. Toss the peppers with 1 tbsp. of the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast on baking sheet, turning once, until soft and blackened, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to let steam for 15 minutes. Discard the skin, seeds, and cores from the peppers. Roughly chop the peppers and combine them with 1 tsp. of the oil, honey, vinegar, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender and purée. Strain the purée through a fine sieve into a bowl; cover to keep warm.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the leeks and cook until soft, 30–45 seconds. Drain the leeks in a colander in the sink, transfer them to a bowl of ice water, and let chill. Drain the leeks again and pat them dry with paper towels. Heat 4 tbsp. of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, 2 tbsp. of the stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the stock has evaporated; add 2 tbsp. more. Repeat process until 1 cup of chicken stock total has been absorbed, about 30 minutes total. Cover and keep the leeks warm.
  3. Season the fish filets with salt and pepper to taste. Brush the flesh side of the filets with egg whites. Place the filets, egg white–coated sides down, in the center of the bread slices and press gently to adhere. Trim the excess bread from sides. Heat 3 tbsp. of the oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the filets, bread-crusted side down, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through, 6–8 minutes.
  4. To serve, stir 1 tbsp. of the oil and the remaining 2 tbsp. stock into the pepper purée and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the parsley into the leeks and pile them neatly onto the centers of 4 plates. Place the halibut filets on top of the leeks. Spoon the pepper purée onto the plates, forming 3"-wide dots. Arrange the greens next to the filets, overlapping them slightly on top. Drizzle the plates artfully with the remaining oil and balsamic vinegar.