Foster’s Market Favorites: Grouper Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions and Oven–Roasted Tomatoes
“I often make this roast when my sister, Judy, visits because she pines for fresh fish in landlocked Tennessee, where she lives. With caramelized onions and roasted tomatoes, it has the same depth and complex flavors that makes a pot roast like our mother made irresistible but with the lighter quality of fish. I use grouper because it’s readily available in North Carolina, but rely on what’s in season near you, as long as it is sturdy (about one inch thick). Halibut and cod also work well.”
Serves 6 to 8
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) skinless grouper fillet (about 1-inch thick)
1/2 pint (1 cup) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling hot. Add the onion and thyme, season with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to low. Cook the onion, stirring often, until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the skillet, discarding the thyme, and set aside.
- Add the butter and remaining olive oil to the skillet in which the onions were cooked and heat until sizzling hot over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and slide into the skillet flesh side down. Scatter the tomatoes around the edges of the skillet and fish. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fish, undisturbed, until it becomes golden in places and lifts easily from the pan, about 4 minutes (longer if it’s sticking). Stir the tomatoes gently, occasionally, so they cook on all sides. Flip the fish over and turn off the heat. Add the wine and scrape up any bits stuck to the skillet around the fish. Spoon the onions on top of and around the fish.
- Place the fish in the oven and bake until flaky but not dry, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the fish to a platter and spoon the tomatoes, onions and broth over it. Sprinkle with parsley and basil and serve warm.
Sidebar: In the Kitchen: Nonstick Methods
No need for special pans. To prevent sticking, simply heat your vessel until it is sizzling hot—meaning, you can actually hear a sizzle when the protein hits the pan. After adding, let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes, resisting the urge to flip. If it sticks, it’s not ready to turn. You’ll know it’s ready once it releases easily—same if you are using a grill or grill pan.
Sidebar: In the Kitchen: Testing Fish for Doneness
To tell if a fish is finished cooking, remove it from the oven, insert the tip of a small knife into the thickest part of the fish and gently pry it open so you can see the color and texture inside. It should be tender and flaky, mostly opaque and slightly translucent. The fish will continue to cook a little after you remove it from the pan.
Sidebar: On the Lawn: Fresh Herbs
I’m a huge proponent of fresh herbs, which partially explains why our rosemary bush has completely enveloped the Market’s mailbox. Though our mail carrier may feel differently, we can’t get enough—of any fresh herb, really. We grow varieties of basil, thyme, sage, oregano and mint in galvanized tubs around the Market’s porch, plucking springs and leaves for most of our dishes. Fresh herbs are one of the simplest ways to add flavor. And they’ll grow almost anywhere—on the lawn, in a bucket or in your windowsill—often returning year after year.