Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

Try this dish just for the Halibut

With the onset of fall, I usually segue from lighter wine and food choices to the more hearty fare this cool season seems to demand. But just not yet.

Since I was unable to shed my winter coat (i.e., blubber) this summer, I’m forcing myself to eat lighter for the next few weeks. Yes, I hope to shed a few pounds, but I resolutely refuse to deny myself (and those within my ample shadow) the flavorful food or fruit of the vine we so rightly deserve.

And while it may seem oxymoronic to say this, I am going to provide you with a recipe for some healthy comfort food along with a couple of wines that match up to them quite nicely. Yes, that’s right, low calorie, wine-friendly food that is not only delicious, but healthy too!

The dish I’m going to share with you today uses a filet of firm white fish – in this instance halibut - as the lean protein component. Those of you who wish, however, can substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts or any other mild white fish. I will also recommend both a white and red wine to pair with the meal. I call this recipe:

(Just For The) Halibut

The Recipe (feeds four)

Four six-ounce halibut filets
One cup of wild rice
One tablespoon of butter (optional)
Two ounces of extra virgin olive oil
Two large tomatoes chopped
One-half cup of Kalamata olives pitted
Two tablespoons of capers in brine
One tablespoon of minced garlic
One shallot chopped
One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Four ounces of dry white wine (I use the stuff I will drink later with the meal)
One-half teaspoon of red chili flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

[caption id="attachment_991" align="alignleft" width="161"]Pairs nicely with the halibut Pairs nicely with the halibut

Putting it together
Cook the wild rice, add salt, pepper and butter (or oil) to taste – set aside
Sauté the garlic, tomatoes, shallots in olive oil for five minutes at high heat
Add the wine, vinegar, olives, capers and chili flakes to the sauté pan
Cook for five minutes more at medium heat and set aside
Rub the fish all over with salt and pepper
Sauté fish in a tablespoon of olive oil for 4 minutes (2 minutes per side)
Spoon half the sauce onto the fish and roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes
Reheat the rice and mound on plates
Place the fish over the rice and spoon the rest of the sauce over each filet
Serve immediately

Here are two excellent wines to accompany the meal.

2012 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc ($20) – Citrus and melon flavors highlight this fresh, well-balanced wine. Excellent acidity and a long finish make this the perfect accompaniment to the halibut.

2011 Allegrini Valpolicella Classico ($14) – This northern Italian red has bright cherry flavors with a spicy tea-like nuance. This is a light to medium bodied red that pairs well – especially with the sauce in the halibut dish.
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