Even fish benefits from fall's signature fruit, and this quick dish works well with almost any kind of white-fleshed fish.
Saucewise, there are two ways to go: Use the reduction of sparkling cider and optional apple brandy, or swirl in creme fraiche or a few tablespoons of butter just before serving (and off the heat).
Serve with steamed green beans or new potatoes. Wine columnist Dave McIntyre suggests pouring a glass of a Sipp Mack 2004 Grand Cru Rosacker Riesling from Alsace or a Winzer von Erbach 2007 Riesling from the Rheingau region of Germany.
- 2 to 3 shallots (may substitute 1/4 small onion)
- 5 ounces mushrooms, such as portobello, button or cremini
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds white-fleshed fish fillets, such as black cod, line-caught haddock, Pacific halibut or U.S. farm-raised tilapia
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus an optional 2 tablespoons for swirling in at the end
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry sparkling hard cider
- 1/4 cup apple brandy, such as Calvados or applejack (optional)
- 3/4 cup creme fraiche (optional)
Peel and mince the shallots; there should be 2 to 3 tablespoons' worth.
Stem and wash the mushrooms, then coarsely chop; there should be 1/2 to 3/4 cup.
Cut the fish into 2 or 4 equally sized pieces, if necessary, so that they fit comfortably in a large skillet.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-low heat. When it is foamy, add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until they are translucent.
Season the fish lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange the fish pieces in the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms, stirring to combine. Add the cider and apple brandy, if using; increase the heat to medium or medium-high so that bubbles appear at the edges of the skillet. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes; turn the fish pieces over halfway through, if desired.
Transfer the fish to a deep serving dish to keep warm, leaving the liquid in the skillet. Increase the heat to medium-high, if needed; cook uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
(At this point, if you want to make a richer sauce, remove the skillet from the heat. Add the craeme fraaTMche or butter and stir to incorporate.)
Spoon the sauce over fish. Serve immediately, at the table.
Adapted from "Cider: Hard & Sweet," by Ben Watson (Countryman Press, 2008).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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