Paired Wine: Native Grace Barrel Chardonnay from Henners Vineyard
The original dish that I planned to match with this wine was whole roasted turbot with fennel – and that would be delicious. But after a splendid tasting at Henners, I enjoyed a fabulous barbecued monkfish at the outstanding restaurant The Salt Room in Brighton. The smokiness of the ’nduja balances the barrel ferment, though you can replace it with smoked paprika for a less punchy element in the dish, while the ‘meaty’ texture of the monkfish is heaven with this wine. I was so taken with enjoying the English wine, the English seafood and great company, I neglected to ask the Chef for the recipe, so this is my reinvention from that inspiration.
Large jar of alargada white beans (about 700g undrained weight)*
Olive oil, for frying
1 large white onion, finely chopped
400–450ml vegetable stock (homemade if possible – keep on a simmer until needed)
1 monkfish tail (800g–1kg) – whole on the bone, skin and membrane removed
Sea salt and black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil Smoked paprika (optional) Zest of 1 lemon
* The Perelló brand of alargada white beans is excellent but you can also make this with butter beans or even chickpeas. Do, however, buy them in jars not cans, as the texture and taste is so much better.
Please do read the method first because you can either cook the beans while the fish is cooking, or get ahead and prepare earlier – the beans (before the samphire is added) are very forgiving at being reheated. You won’t use all of the beans from a large jar but they are delicious next day as a salad with tomatoes and feta, or even on toast with some bacon!
Empty out the white beans into a sieve, rinse and drain.
Heat a couple of glugs of oil in a large, heavy-based casserole (Le Creuset style) over a medium heat. Add the onions and leave to soften but not colour – about 10 minutes – stirring occasionally. Turn down the heat if they start to catch.
Add the ’nduja and, keeping the heat low, mix in well until it breaks down completely and the onions take on a rich red colour – about 5 minutes.
Tip in the drained beans and mix well with the onions. Add the heated stock and stir well again. Smush a couple of spoonfuls of the beans against the side of the casserole with a cooking spoon. This will give the dish a creamy texture. Continue to cook over a gentle heat for about 15 minutes – keep an eye on the stock level and add bit more if required.
Preheat the oven to 130°C fan/150°C/ gas mark 2.
Season the monkfish lightly with salt (bear in mind the samphire will give lots of saltiness to the dish).
Melt the butter until foaming in a large frying pan. Brown the monkfish on all sides (allow 4–5 minutes) and transfer to a roasting tin. Pour melted butter from the pan over the fish. Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn the fish over and cook for further 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, cover with aluminium foil, and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
Ensure the bean mixture is hot and stir through the samphire – just enough to warm it through for 1 minute so that it does not lose its crunch. Do not be tempted to add more salt – the samphire will be naturally salty enough.
To serve, portion beans and samphire onto two plates, slice each fillet of monkfish down the side of the bone and place on the beans and samphire, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of smoked paprika. Finish with fresh lemon zest.
Buy the book: Watercress, Willow and Wine