Amateur Holiday Cook-Off

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  Pan-Seared Cod With Enoki Mushrooms and Lardons in a Curried Carrot Broth

The Chef
Jason Wright

Serves 6

2 tablespoons good curry powder
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 quart fresh carrot juice
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into cubes
1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed, shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups mixed fresh mushrooms (chanterelles, enoki, or whatever looks fresh), thinly sliced
6 thick hake fillets (about 1/2 pound each; cod or another firm, flaky fish can be substituted)
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup canola oil
12 whole chives

Cooking Instructions
Warm the curry powder in a small skillet over medium-high heat until it becomes aromatic, then remove from heat and allow it to cool. Combine with softened butter, and refrigerate in a covered bowl until needed.

Boil carrot juice in a medium saucepan until reduced by half, skimming off any solids that rise to the surface. Set aside.

Sauté the bacon cubes in a skillet until nicely brown but not crisp. Remove bacon, drain on paper towels, and set aside. Pour half the bacon fat into a bowl, leaving the rest in the skillet. Add spinach, and sauté until wilted. Season to taste with pepper, and set aside. Add reserved bacon fat and mushrooms to the skillet, and sauté until they are just cooked. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a sifter, very lightly dust each fish fillet with flour, and season well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until ripples form. Add three fish fillets to the pan, and brown for about 2 minutes on each side, or until they take on a golden color. Repeat with remaining fish. Place fish on a rack in a large baking pan and cook in the oven 5 to 6 minutes, or until slightly firm. Remove from oven, and cover the pan with a clean towel.

Reheat carrot broth to a fast simmer. Remove from heat, whisk in 1/2 the curry butter (the remainder can be rolled in wax paper and frozen), and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

To serve, set out six large, shallow soup bowls, place a generous mound of spinach in the center of each, and set the fish on top. Place teaspoons of bacon at six and twelve o’clock on the bowl, followed by a generous tablespoon of mushrooms at three and nine. Ladle about 1/4 cup carrot broth into the bowl. Garnish with 2 chives.