This recipe is from our head fishmonger Max Harvey, a chef in a past life who worked for years with legendary Boston Chef Jasper White. Monkfish usually swims into markets in mid-to-late fall, hence the autumnal treatment here, in a dish inspired by Jasper.
1 lb bone-in monkfish tails, (could be 1 or 2 tails, depending on weight)
¼ cup all-purpose flour for dredging fish
1-2 teaspoons herb seasoning, like Herbes de Provence or dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for cooking
2 medium apples, peeled and cut into thick wedges (if you don’t like the idea of apples and fish, you could use 1 pound mushrooms and prepare the same way, or 2 medium par-boiled potatoes)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, removed from stems
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped shallots (about 3 to 4 medium to large shallots)
½ cup white wine
¼ cup light cream
Extra thyme leaves or a little parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
Heat the oven to 425°F. Pat the monkfish tail dry. With dry hands, pull off any remaining grey membrane. Wulf’s monkfish tails are well cleaned, but there may be some small bits you’ll want to remove. Do not trim the fish aggressively. It may look strange raw, but it won’t when cooked and this is part of the character of the fish.
Toss the flour, herb seasoning, and a sprinkle of salt in a medium bowl. Place monkfish in the bowl and turn to coat both sides with the mixture.
Pour a glug of cooking oil into a medium nonstick pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, place the monkfish in the pan and cook for about 1 minute on each side to brown the fish. Transfer to an oven-safe pan and bake 8 to 10 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the fish releases moisture into the pan and pulls away from the central bone – you'll see the bone sticking out at the end.
In the pan you used to brown the fish, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat and cook shallots until soft. Add a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, then add the apples and thyme and stir to combine.
Cook, stirring, to soften the apples, then add wine to the pan and cook down for 2 minutes on high heat to reduce the wine. Stir in ¼ cup cream to pan and let simmer. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and melt into mixture. Remove from heat, taste, and adjust salt and pepper.
Plate family style, spooning the sauce and apples around and over the fish.
To serve, the flesh of the fish will pull easily and cleanly away from the central bone with a table knife and spoon. There are no other bones to deal with.