Domenica Marchetti remembers a time when the most memorable meals were those occasional, special nights out when a family or a group of friends splurged at a fancy restaurant. Today people go out all the time, she writes in her new cookbook, Big Night In (Chronicle Books). So the meals we most savor now are those shared around a dining room or kitchen table.
Slow-roasted Arctic char, Marchetti notes, is based on a “superb technique” she learned from her friend Diane Morgan’s book Salmon. Like salmon, Arctic char has a “beautiful rosy flesh; a tender, flaky texture; and a sweet buttery flavor.” Cooking the fillet slowly, at a low temperature produces a succulent, deeply pink fish. “It is a perfect dinner party centerpiece.”
Recipe of the week
Slow-Roasted Arctic Char With Sautéed Fennel and Pernod
Two 1-lb fillets Arctic char, pin bones removed
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fennel pollen
Kosher or sea salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 fennel bulbs, stems removed (reserve the fronds), bulbs quartered lengthwise, each quarter cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tbsp Pernod
2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds
½ cup heavy or light cream
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Place char fillets, skin side down, on large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil and fennel pollen. Drizzle oil mixture over fish; rub it in gently with fingertips. Season fish with a little salt. Set char in oven to roast for 20 minutes.
While char is roasting, sauté fennel: Put remaining tablespoon oil and butter in large skillet; set skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add sliced fennel; stir to coat it thoroughly with butter and oil. Sauté fennel for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium-high; pour in Pernod. Cook, stirring for a minute or so, until Pernod has evaporated. Stir in fennel fronds and cream. Boil briefly, until sauce has thickened slightly. Turn off heat; cover pan to keep fennel warm.
Check fish for doneness. It is done when instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers between 125 and 130 degrees, and when flesh is opaque pink and flakes slightly. The flesh should be barely firm to touch and not at all hard or dry. Using two wide spatulas, carefully transfer char fillets to large serving platter. Spoon warm sautéed fennel over fish; serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.