Leftover ingredients can sometimes take you to an unexpected dish. I already had pancetta on hand, and a bunch of chives were starting to go bad in the fridge. Based on this pairing, I searched the web for a recipe that would help me use up a lot the chives before they went to waste, and I found this dish. Despite trying to use up the food I already had in my fridge, I brought home nearly a pound of swordfish.
The recipe is called oil-poached swordfish, which makes little sense to me. Poaching involves using a moderately low temperature “bath” to cook delicate meats like fish. The original recipe called for a lot of oil (4 cups!) – although the fish won’t absorb all that oil (over 7,000 calories), it will absorb some. I made a couple of changes to this recipe to simplify it, starting with searing and pan-frying the swordfish. Swordfish is a meaty fish, and it doesn’t need the delicate treatment of poaching. I’m also a fan of using (and washing) as few dishes as possible, so instead of making a chive oil suspension, I muddled the herbs in the oil for a chunkier dressing.
This dish turned out really well, but it didn’t even need the swordfish to make it shine. The corn and pancetta combo would be good on its own. Again, I like the Bittman-esque idea of keeping fatty meats (like the pancetta) on the sideline, as a flavor agent, rather than giving it center stage every time.
– 3 ears corn, husked
– 1 heaping Tablespoon chives, chopped
– 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 1 pound swordfish steaks
– 1/3 cup diced pancetta (a bit less than 1/4 lb.)
– 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 1 small shallot, finely chopped
– 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
– 1/4 cup white wine
– 1/2 Tablespoon butter
1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add about a Tablespoon of salt to the boiling water, then add the corn. Cook the corn for 8 minutes. Using tongs, remove the corn from the water and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of the salted cooking water. When the corn has cooled slightly, cut the corn kernels off the cob.
2) Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and chives together in a small bowl. Muddle or crush with the back of a spoon or in a mortar with a pestle. Set aside.
3) Heat a grill pan with a light coating of oil over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, gently add the swordfish steaks to sear. Cook 2 minutes or until browned, then flip over to brown the other side. Continue to cook 10-12 more minutes, flipping once more, until the swordfish registers 150-degrees when tested with a meat thermometer.
4) At the same time, in a large skillet over medium heat, saute the diced pancetta until cooked and starting to crisp. Add the garlic, shallots, and thyme and saute until soft but not brown, 3 minutes. Stir in the corn kernels. Add the reserved corn cooking water and cook about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5) Plate a generous portion of the corn on each plate. Deglaze the skillet: pour the white wine into the skillet over medium heat and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of corn and pancetta still remaining. Add the butter and stir to melt and combine with the wine. Pour over the corn on each plate. Divide the cooked swordfish and place on the bed of corn. Serve immediately.