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  • Bacon-Poached Arctic Char with Onion Puree

    Bacon-Poached Arctic Char with Onion Puree and Brussels Sprout Salad

    Texture is what keeps my palette excited. I’m always chasing the perfect bite, something that is salty, creamy, and crunchy, and that ends on a bright, acidic note. For this dish, we slow-poach Arctic char in bacon fat so it maintains a silky, almost sushi-like quality, which balances the texture of a raw salad. The onion puree adds an earthy creaminess. It’s really perfect surf and turf: The char (the sea) really shines, and the bacon (the mountains) acts like a flavor backbone, infusing salty rich flavor into the char and the salad and bringing the dish together. If char is too expensive, unavailable, or just not looking delicious, the recipe works just as well with salmon or trout.

    Servings & Time

    • Servings 4
    • Prep 30 minutes
    • Cook I hour, 30 minutes


    • 1 pound sliced bacon
    • 1 medium Spanish onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream, if needed
    • 4 (4- to 6-ounce) skinless arctic char fillets, have your local fishmonger clean the fillets and remove pin bones
    • 2 cups full-bodied red wine (such as syrah or cabernet sauvignon)
    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 5 to 6 Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and separated into leaves
    • 1 winter black radish
    • 7 chives, cut into 1-inch-long snippets


    To Render the Bacon Fat

    Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat; working in batches, add the bacon to the pan and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is golden and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. After each batch, drain off the bacon fat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan just large enough to hold 2 fillets. Reserve the bacon for another use.

    For the Onion Puree

    Return the skillet to the stove and heat 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about another minute or so. While still hot, transfer to a food processor or blender and puree (keep covered with a lid or kitchen towel to prevent splattering). If too thick, thin with a little cream and blend some more.

    For the Char

    While the bacon fat is still warm (or reheat 1 cup reserved bacon fat to 160 to 170°F.), place the fish in the fat. (If the fish sizzles when placed in the fat, it is too hot. Remove the pan from heat and set aside for 10 minutes.)

    Poach the fillets in the fat for 20 minutes. If the fish is not completely covered by the bacon fat, turn the fillets after 10 minutes. After 20 minutes, the fish should be a perfect medium rare.

    Transfer to a towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat this process to poach the remaining fillets. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and save the remaining fat for another use or discard.

    For the Vinaigrette

    In a small saucepan, bring the red wine to a boil over high heat and cook until reduced to a syrupy consistency, 15 to 20 minutes. Give the syrup a taste to make sure all the alcohol has cooked off. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Add the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and the reserved 2 tablespoons bacon fat and whisk to combine.

    For the Salad

    Using a mandoline or very sharp paring knife, slice the radish as a thin as possible. Just before serving, mix the Brussels sprouts leaves and radish slices together. Dress with some of the vinaigrette and add the chive snippets.

    To Assemble

    Spoon the onion puree onto 4 plates and top each with an arctic char fillet. Top with the salad and drizzle both the fish and salad with vinaigrette.

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