Post ID: 65

crispy haddock with braised cabbage & orange polenta

When I originally consulted Laurent Tourendel’s Fresh from the Market to find a suitable festive dinner recipe to make on Christmas Day, it didn’t take long to decide on the Crispy Red Snapper with Braised Cabbage and Orange Polenta. It took considerably longer to shop for the ingredients, and also having to settle for Haddock in place of the Red Snapper, which is apparently not easy to obtain in the Montpelier, VT metro area on Christmas Eve (nor likely to be so any other day.) But the haddock looked fresh, had a nice skin and was wild caught, not previously frozen. So it was welcomed to dinner with open arms, along with the Napa cabbage to replace the asked-for Savoy cabbage, and the celeriac to replace celery, not because it wasn’t available (trust me, celery stalks are NOT in short supply in Vermont,) but because none of us like it! Feel free to restore the original ingredient list fully or partially when you recreate this tasty feast. For more advice, read the full story of our Christmas Dinner

Yield: 6 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total time: 75 minutes


1 small head Napa cabbage (original recipe uses Savoy)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small onions
1 small celeriac (celery root) [original recipe uses 2 stalks celery]
1 carrot
1/4 cup chicken stock (vegetable stock can be used in its place)
salt and pepper to taste

Tomato Emulsion 
4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I used Simply Juice brand medium pulp)
1 cup fresh or canned tomato juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Orange Polenta
5 cups whole milk
2 cups instant polenta
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (Sartori Stravecchio suggested, but not available everywhere)
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
Zest of one orange
extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

24 ounces haddock fillet, skin on (original recipe uses red snapper fillets)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

How is this sustainable ?

With the exception of the fish, we kept the ingredients to fresh vegetables with the addition of only a few, flavor-enhancing, processed ingredients.

The fish was wild-caught, and not previously frozen. The debate over wild-caught versus farm-raised is not over, but I do feel that a limited amount of wild-fishing is preferable for not only sustainability, but also the preservation of biodiversity.


Braise the Cabbage

  1. Wash and core the cabbage, then slice into 1/2-inch thick ribbons. You should have about 8 cups of cabbage.
  2. Peel and dice onion, celeriac and carrot.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Add the onion, celeriac, and carrot and sauté until the vegetables just begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the cabbage and chicken stock and reduce the heat.
  6. Cover the saucepan until the cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Tomato Emulsion

  1. Combine the orange juice and tomato juice in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Simmer to reduce the juices by two-thirds, stirring occasionally, about 20-30 minutes. (This is VERY important — hurrying this process along makes the emulsion a little too thin.)
  3. Strain the reduction through a fine-mesh strainer set over a clean small saucepan.
  4. Stir in the cream.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Using an immersion blender or a whisk, blend in the olive oil until smooth and completely emulsified.

Make the Orange Polenta

  1. Combine the milk and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. (This may have been the right amount of liquid for the preparation of the instant polenta Chef Tourendel used, but it turned out to not be quite enough liquid for the one I bought. I highly suggest using the package instructions instead.)
  2. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the polenta.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, whisking often.
  5. Remove pan from heat.
  6. Stir in the grated cheese, mascarpone and orange zest.
  7. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the polenta to prevent a skin from forming.

Cook the Fish

  1. Cut the fish into evenly sized portions.
  2. Score the skin side of the fish with very shallow 1-inch-long slits. (This will keep the fish from curling up in the pan and cooking unevenly.)
  3. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat olive oil in large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. 
  5. Once the oil is very hot, place the fish fillets, skin side down, in the pan.
  6. Cook until the skin is crisp, pressing down on the fillets so that they brown evenly, about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Turn the fish over and cook until opaque, about 1 minute. (If your pan isn’t large enough, cook fish in two batches, storing the first portion on a warmed plate until ready to serve.)

To Serve

  1. Spoon the cabbage into the center of 6 warm bowls.
  2. Arrange the fish over the cabbage and drizzle with the tomato emulsion.
  3. Drizzle the polenta with extra virgin olive oil and serve on the side.
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