Earlier in our lives, Carolyn and I were lucky to spend a good amount of time in the Southeast, particularly the Carolinas and Georgia. We love the people, land and beaches and built a real love of the local food. Southern-influenced food, especially real barbecue, is a part of our regular family cooking here in California. We also experienced some of the “new” southern cuisine in Savannah and Charleston, and fell in love with many of the flavors. Dinner at Elisabeth on 37th in Savannah is still one of our best dining memories. So when new southern-influenced chefs emerge, we take notice. And if they have a cookbook, we often give in to temptation (addiction?) and buy it. Such is the case with Athens and Atlanta-based chef Hugh Acheson of Top Chef and Food and Wine’s “Best New Chef” award fame. He recently published a his cookbook “A New Turn in the South” and we decided to try it out.
We have been working through this cookbook for a few weeks and with very good results. Acheson has gone out of his way to create a cookbook that will work for the home cook. So far we are happy with the cookbook, with the one bummer that some of the recipes contain ingredients we will have a hard time finding locally in California. But this recipe, featuring a dual-cooking method for halibut and sugar-snap peas that are just coming into season, stood out for us and we decided to try it. And the result was a restaurant-quality dish you can make at home.
Now you might asking, “a restaurant-quality halibut dish? why halibut?” Well, Pacific halibut is a sustainable beautiful, and tasty fish, if you don’t overcook it and dry it out. Halibut is a great match with bright flavors like herbs and spring vegetables, but the key is to find a home-cooking method that keeps the halibut moist. With this recipe, Acheson gives you an easy, predictable cooking method that keeps the fish moist and then accentuates it with a sweet pan-sauce, tangy salsa verde and crispy sugar-snap peas. In the end, you get the range of textures and flavors that elevate a dish beyond the realm of regular home cooking. Continue reading