Skate with wine braised Cipollini and fennel

Skate with wine braised cipollini onions

After a morning interview and an afternoon spent scouring Circuit City closeout sales, I was tired and not in a mood to cook. On my way home, I stopped at the Grand Central Market to pick up ingredients for a quick-and-dirty dinner that I figured wouldn’t be worth posting about.

After a brief scan through one of my favorite markets in Manhattan, I ended up with skate, tarragon, sausage, and sauerkraut. The thought at the time was that I could fry up the skate or grill the sausages and pair either with some potatoes I recalled having at home. I’m not sure if it was sweltering heat in the subway or the exhaustion setting in, but sausages seemed very unappetizing by the time I got home, so I decided to do something with the skate.

Skate fillets

Skate is a type of fish that is in the same class as sharks, having a similar flat appearance to rays (as in stingrays). The parts you eat are the wings on either side of the body, which have a very distinctive segmented appearance and a texture similar to chicken when cooked. Because the fillets are so thin, they cook very quickly so it’s important to fry them in a very hot pan to get a nice brown crust without over-cooking them.

Cipollini Onions and Fennel

Rummaging through the fridge, I found a few Cipollini onions rolling around in the veggie drawer as well as a half bulb of fennel that had seen better days. Unfortunately there was nary a potato to be found. For a brief moment I started to panic, picturing the meager portion of skate on the plate devoid of any starch. I could have made pasta, but I was hungry and the whole boiling and draining thing seemed like more of a fuss that I was prepared to handle. Scanning the kitchen, my eye caught a glimpse of a gold and green bag of masa harina sitting on the counter. Tortillas would have been an odd pairing, but I started to wonder what kind of porridge the lime treated and finely ground corn would produce.

As it turns out, masa harina makes a fantastic porridge that’s much smoother and creamier than polenta, closer in color and texture to cream of wheat, but with the mild creamy flavour of corn. All I did was whisk some masa harina into a 50/50 mix of chicken stock and soy milk with a pinch of salt. As it’s heated, it starts thickening and the viscosity can be adjusted by cooking longer to thicken or adding more stock to thin.

Skate with masa harina poridge

Despite my every intention to make a quick simple meal, this turned into something rich and elegant that looked and tasted impressive, making it equally suited for a dinner party or a weeknight meal. The browned skate fillet is topped with onions and fennel that have been braised in wine and stock and finished with a tarragon beurre blanc. The flavours and textures all played very nicely together with juxtaposing creamy, tangy, salty and sweet elements with the fresh anisey tarragon providing some contrast both visually and on the palette.

Wine pairing: 2006 J Chardonnay (Russian River). A satiny smooth chardonnay with caramel and citrus on the nose and apples and lemon on the palette. With its round tannins and hint of oak, it made for a perfect addition to the sauce and an even better accompaniment to the finished dish.

6 whole Cipollini onions peeled
1/2 bulb of fennel sliced thin
1/2 C round white wine (I used a 2006 J Chardonnay)
1/2 C chicken stock
honey (if needed)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs tarragon
1/2 lemon

2 skate fillets

Heat a non-reactive pan over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Swirl to coat, then add the fennel and whole onions. Brown each side of the onions being careful not to burn the fennel.

Add the wine and allow it to boil until there is almost no liquid left. This burns off the alcohol and allows the flavor of the wine to concentrate before we add more liquid.

Add the chicken stock and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced by half.

While the sauce is reducing, rub the skate with olive oil then lightly salt and pepper both sides.

Heat a cast iron skillet skillet over medium high heat until very hot. Lay the fillets in the pan and allow them to lightly brown on one side then use a thin long spatula to flip them over.

When the sauce has reduced by half, whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of butter then salt and pepper to taste. Depending on the type of wine you used, the sauce may be a little tart. By adding honey you can balance out the the tartness with the sweetness from the honey. Finish the sauce by adding the tarragon and a squeeze of lemon.

Plate the skate fillets then top with the braised onions, fennel and sauce.

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com/ we are never full

    good idea to get the skate deboned. those bones are a f-er! i actually thought the masa harina was parsnip or celeriac puree. looks delish, as always. good luck w/ that interview – let us know what happened.

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com we are never full

    good idea to get the skate deboned. those bones are a f-er! i actually thought the masa harina was parsnip or celeriac puree. looks delish, as always. good luck w/ that interview – let us know what happened.

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    this does look delightfully elegant and impressive as you have so described yourself. if i didn’t carry on reading, i would have started pulling my hair out because this is so not my definition of a down-and-dirty meal :)
    looks so yummy. i really wish i had a reliable fresh fish market here so i can pick up some skate and give elegant-and-impressive a try! xx

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    this does look delightfully elegant and impressive as you have so described yourself. if i didn’t carry on reading, i would have started pulling my hair out because this is so not my definition of a down-and-dirty meal :)
    looks so yummy. i really wish i had a reliable fresh fish market here so i can pick up some skate and give elegant-and-impressive a try! xx

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca/ Peter

    Skate wing is not appreciated enough. It’s cheap, it’s easy to prep and succulent, flaky meat is delicious.

    We need more skate recipes out there…here’s another one!

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca Peter

    Skate wing is not appreciated enough. It’s cheap, it’s easy to prep and succulent, flaky meat is delicious.

    We need more skate recipes out there…here’s another one!

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Great idea with the masa. I have never had skate, we don’t get much mainland fish here.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Great idea with the masa. I have never had skate, we don’t get much mainland fish here.

  • http://chefsgonewild.blogspot.com/ Zenchef

    It looks great Marc! I was thinking about cooking some skate this week too. I like to make a brown butter-sesame vinaigrette with mine, now i want to try your version.

  • http://chefsgonewild.blogspot.com Zenchef

    It looks great Marc! I was thinking about cooking some skate this week too. I like to make a brown butter-sesame vinaigrette with mine, now i want to try your version.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Oh my. My quick and dirty dinners do simply not look like that. I need to get quicker and dirtier.

    I have a super soft spot for skate!

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Oh my. My quick and dirty dinners do simply not look like that. I need to get quicker and dirtier.

    I have a super soft spot for skate!

  • http://somanycookbooks.blogspot.com/ Danielle

    I have not had occasion to work with Skate but look forward to giving this a try. I like the subtle onion and fennel addition here. Not so overpowering as to cover up the delicate flavor of the fish.

    I have something for you on my blog…come and grab it!
    http://somanycookbooks.blogspot.com/2009/03/my-first-award-i-am-so-honored-to-be.html
    have great week!
    Danielle

  • http://somanycookbooks.blogspot.com Danielle

    I have not had occasion to work with Skate but look forward to giving this a try. I like the subtle onion and fennel addition here. Not so overpowering as to cover up the delicate flavor of the fish.

    I have something for you on my blog…come and grab it!
    http://somanycookbooks.blogspot.com/2009/03/my-first-award-i-am-so-honored-to-be.html
    have great week!
    Danielle

  • http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/ lisaiscooking

    Looks fantastic. I want to cook skate one of these days!

  • http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/ lisaiscooking

    Looks fantastic. I want to cook skate one of these days!

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    I just love the way your brain works. From “I don’t feel like cooking” to “Hey, look–skate, cippolini, fennel and masa harina porridge” in 6.4 seconds! Fantastic:D

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com Jenni

    I just love the way your brain works. From “I don’t feel like cooking” to “Hey, look–skate, cippolini, fennel and masa harina porridge” in 6.4 seconds! Fantastic:D

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com/ Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    Wonderful dish! I always see skate in my store and never buy it, I should definitely try it soon.

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    Wonderful dish! I always see skate in my store and never buy it, I should definitely try it soon.

  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com/ lo

    Love this treatment of skate.
    Am a big fan, but I generally avoid skate because of the bones… looks like I don’t have to if I buy the right stuff!

  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com lo

    Love this treatment of skate.
    Am a big fan, but I generally avoid skate because of the bones… looks like I don’t have to if I buy the right stuff!

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com/ Elra

    Great ingredients, love the choice of tarragon there. It’s my favorite herb more then anything.
    Cheers,
    elra

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com Elra

    Great ingredients, love the choice of tarragon there. It’s my favorite herb more then anything.
    Cheers,
    elra

  • http://www.foodgal.com/ Carolyn Jung

    I love skate. The texture is so interesting. But have only had it at restaurants; have never cooked with it. I rarely ever see it sold at seafood counters here, unfortunately.

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    I love skate. The texture is so interesting. But have only had it at restaurants; have never cooked with it. I rarely ever see it sold at seafood counters here, unfortunately.

  • http://www.everydaycookin.com/ Darius T. Williams

    I LOVE the finished presentation – it’s great.

  • http://www.everydaycookin.com Darius T. Williams

    I LOVE the finished presentation – it’s great.

  • http://noobcook.com/ noobcook

    beautiful food styling and such a healthy dish too =)

  • http://noobcook.com noobcook

    beautiful food styling and such a healthy dish too =)

  • http://www.sophiesfoodiefiles.blogspot.com/ Sophie

    MMMMM…this dish looks wonderful! I just love skate!! In Belgium, in Dutch, we call it ; ROG! MMMMM….

  • http://www.sophiesfoodiefiles.blogspot.com Sophie

    MMMMM…this dish looks wonderful! I just love skate!! In Belgium, in Dutch, we call it ; ROG! MMMMM….

  • http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com/ megan (brooklyn farmhouse)

    I LOVE skate. It is one of my favorite kinds of fish for sure. I like your combination of Cipollinis and fennel – sounds delicious.

  • http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com megan (brooklyn farmhouse)

    I LOVE skate. It is one of my favorite kinds of fish for sure. I like your combination of Cipollinis and fennel – sounds delicious.

  • Pingback: Cipollini Onions | [ No Recipes ] Ingredients()

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    I’m pretty sure only you could set out for a quick and dirty dinner (mine would be beans on toast or ice cream or something) and come out with this elegant fandango. I absolutely love fennel but it just will not go down in price here!

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    I’m pretty sure only you could set out for a quick and dirty dinner (mine would be beans on toast or ice cream or something) and come out with this elegant fandango. I absolutely love fennel but it just will not go down in price here!

  • Pingback: Tarragon Tagliatelle with Sea Urchin Butter | [ No Recipes ]()

  • http://LarkLoganSellsRichmond.com/ Lark Logan

    Oh, I miss living in NYC where you can easily find things like skate! In Richmond, VA, it is a challenge.

    I just discovered your blog today and I’m hooked. You describe food beautifully. I’m in love :-)

  • http://LarkLoganSellsRichmond.com Lark Logan

    Oh, I miss living in NYC where you can easily find things like skate! In Richmond, VA, it is a challenge.

    I just discovered your blog today and I’m hooked. You describe food beautifully. I’m in love :-)

  • http://www.realfoodforrealpeople.blogspot.com/ Sandy

    Love what you came up with for the masa! I’m a huge polenta fan and never thought of trying it with masa, so now I can’t wait. Beautiful pics, too.

  • http://www.realfoodforrealpeople.blogspot.com Sandy

    Love what you came up with for the masa! I’m a huge polenta fan and never thought of trying it with masa, so now I can’t wait. Beautiful pics, too.

  • http://staceysnacksonline.com/ Stacey Snacks

    Marc,
    I have never made skate at home, but order it when we go to a bistro type of place.
    I always love it.

  • http://staceysnacksonline.com Stacey Snacks

    Marc,
    I have never made skate at home, but order it when we go to a bistro type of place.
    I always love it.

  • Pingback: Skate | [ No Recipes ] Ingredients()

  • Pingback: I R Rational meals – Guitarfish Edition | jmw590()

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

All text and photos ©2007-2014. All rights reserved. [ No Recipes ] - Privacy Policy