This lesson’s dish is made up of branzino, sauce grenobloise, a classic ratatouille, and a tapenade. The ratatouille will take roughly 45 minutes start to finish, making it the lesson’s most time-consuming component, so it is advisable to begin with the ratatouille. Additionally, there is some prep work: Char peppers on a burner or grill, let them cool in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and then peel the skins. Also rinse the capers used for the tapenade for 20 minutes.
Branzino, Ratatouille, Tapenade, and Sauce Grenobloise
Yield: 4 portions
•2 ea branzino, whole
•grapeseed oil, as needed
•salt and white pepper, to taste
•2 oz olive oil
•8 oz onion, small dice
•2 ea garlic, brunoise
•1 ea zucchini, thin sliced
•4 thyme sprigs
•1 ea red and green peppers, roasted, with skin removed
•1 ea Japanese eggplant, sliced thin, salted, and fried
•1 ea yellow squash, sliced thin
•10 oz canned tomatoes, crushed by hand
•2 ea bay leaf
•white wine, as needed
•1 C chicken stock
•1 oregano sprig
•salt and pepper, to taste
•8 oz Yukon Gold potatoes, small dice
•2 oz capers
•2 oz lemon juice
•1 oz parsley, cut fine
•6 oz butter, browned
•salt and pepper, to taste
•4 oz manzanillo olives
•4 oz Castelvetrano olives
•1 oz capers
•1 ea anchovy
•1 ea black garlic clove
•lemon juice, as needed
•olive oil, as needed
•salt and pepper, to taste
Making the Ratatouille Base Sauce and Preparing Vegetables
The first step of the ratatouille is making the base sauce. Heat a medium-sized pot with a small amount of oil inside. Sweat onions in the pot.
Gather the charred, peeled peppers and position them nearby. Cut the zucchini, yellow squash, and the eggplant. Use a mandoline positioned over a bowl to cut the vegetables. Be careful while using the mandoline. Cut three-quarters of the zucchini first and save the excess for use later. Then, cut the squash. All of the pieces should be the same thickness.
Check on the onions and add brunoise-cut garlic. Cook for 10 seconds. Once it has aromatized, deglaze the pan with white wine. Let the mixture reduce to a syrupy consistency. Then, add crushed tomatoes.
While that cooks, continue slicing the vegetables. Next up is the eggplant. Slice it and then salt the slices. After that, slice tomatoes by hand. Once the tomatoes are done, slice the charred and peeled peppers, following the chef’s demonstration in the video lesson. A ring mold is helpful here. Roughly chop the scraps and add them to the sauce. Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer.
Rinse the vegetables off. Season them with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Also add oregano, thyme, and basil. Mix the vegetables and seasoning well.
Check on the sauce base. Season with salt and pepper and stir.
Building the Ratatouille
To begin building the ratatouille, put the sauce base in the bottom of a pan. (The video lesson uses a dish called a cazuela.) Layer the vegetables around the pan. Season with small amounts of oil and herbs. Place the pan in an oven and bake it for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Making the Branzino
Before preparing the branzino, inspect it. The eyes should be clear, and the gills should be red. Additionally, the smell should be mild. Check the fish for scales, and scale the fish if necessary. Following the chef’s demonstration from the video lesson, break down the fish. When the fish is broken down, store it in your refrigerator. Store the pieces either skin-to-skin or flesh-to-flesh.
Making the Tapenade
Before you begin the tapenade, check the ratatouille to make sure it is not overcooking or too dry. If it does become too dry, you can add a small amount of chicken stock.
To start the tapenade, put the olives, one anchovy, some capers, salt, black garlic, and pepper in a food processor. Use the processor to break everything down. Pause the processor, and then use a spatula to push everything down into the processor. Turn the processor back on and add olive oil and lemon juice. Stop the processor once more. Check on the mixture, tasting it. If it is ready, take everything out and put it in a small bowl. Check on the ratatouille once more.
Cooking the Fish, Making the Sauce, and Plating the Meal
Before moving on, gather the ingredients for the grenobloise sauce: potatoes, capers, lemon juice, parsley, brown butter, and salt and pepper. Prepare the fish on a seasoning tray. Season it with salt and white pepper, hitting the skin side first, then the flesh side. Heat a pan with a small amount of grapeseed oil in it. Swirl the pan to make the coating of oil even.
When the pan reaches its smoke point, turn the heat down a bit and add the fish. Push the fish down with a fish spatula, making sure the skin has complete contact with the pan. Check to make sure the fish is not stuck to the pan. Add a small amount of butter. Tilt the pan to get butter underneath the fish.
Cook the fish three-quarters of the way with the skin side down. When the fish is almost ready, it will be golden brown on the skin side. At that point, flip the fish, letting it cook for a brief period of time. Remove from heat and transfer the fish to a plate.
Add potatoes to the pan and return the pan to heat. Sauté the potatoes. Meanwhile, take the ratatouille out of the oven and set it aside to rest.
To the pan with the potatoes, add two pads of butter. When the sound of the butter has almost stopped, take the pan away from the flame and add lemon juice, parsley, capers, salt, and pepper. Put the pan back on the heat and swirl. Once the sauce is emulsified, it is time to plate the meal.
Move everything in the pan to the front. Using a saucing spoon, scoop the contents onto the fish. Spread the butter sauce around the fish. Plate the tapenade using the quenelle technique demonstrated in the video lesson. Serve the ratatouille on the side