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Part III: Summer Goodies Dinner: The Main Attraction

 Proscuitto-Wrapped Halibut over Truffled Polenta

I promised you a treat as the official end to our ‘Summer Goodies Dinner‘ series, and I do believe that I will not disappoint. With our light starter and fresh fruit-oriented dessert, I thought it would be only natural for the main attraction to be bold and rich, and bursting with a kaleidoscope of flavors.

Halibut is a favorite fish of mine–tender and substantial at the same time. I tend to simply roast it or sear it, but for this meal, we thought we’d try something a little different. We had some leftover prosciutto from a picnic lunch and my pantry, to my great excitement, had all of the other necessary ingredients–cornmeal, truffle oil, and dried figs.

The recipe sounded like something I might order at a restaurant, but I’ll fill you in on a secret: it’s easy as can be. Polenta is hard to screw up, and the most difficult part of the preparation is to not overcook or undercook the halibut.

This is the kind of main dish that could stand on its own without any starters or sides, makes an impressive small dinner party meal, and is quite accommodating to any season. I associate halibut with warmer months, but the polenta and prosciutto make this very amenable to winter as well. For those of you who live in temperamental regions, this is a great rainy or foggy day meal. It’s a luxurious meal–thanks to the addition of the aromatic truffle oil, the creamy polenta dotted with sweet figs. I would definitely save a nice bottle of wine for this one–white or red would work just fine.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this dinner series, and the accompanying Musical Pairings playlist. If you end up making the entire series (and listening along), do let me know how it turns out!

Proscuitto-Wrapped Halibut over Truffled Polenta

adapted from a recipe featured in Foodtv.com
* serves 2

4 pieces of prosciutto (thin slices)
2 halibut fillets (not steaks)
1/2 cup of cornmeal
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of chopped figs
1/2 sprig of finely chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon of truffle oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Season the halibut with salt and pepper and then wrap two pieces of prosciutto around each piece of halibut, overlapping the edges.

3. In a small pot, bring the milk and butter to a slow boil. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Whisk in the cornmeal slowly and stir continuously for about 8-10 minutes. Add in the chopped dried figs and rosemary and a bit of water if the polenta starts getting too thick. Its consistentency should be around that of cream of wheat, but slightly thicker.

5. While the polenta is cooking, drizzle the fish with a bit of olive oil and put in the oven to roast for about 5-8 minutes. Check its doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center–the fish should be tender and the toothpick should slide right in, but the fish should not be translucent.

6. Drizzle about a teaspoon of truffle oil into the polenta, stir to incorporate and then spoon on each plate.

7. Once the fish is done and out of the oven, place the fillets onto the polenta.

Musical Pairings:Andrew Bird – Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs+ Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut

Today Kasey posted the third and final recipe of her summer menu. Last week, she posted the recipe for the first course, a sweet and slightly tangy watermelon gazpacho, that I paired with Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. For dessert she posted a delicious recipe for nectarines with ricotta-vanilla cream and pine nut brittle that I paired with Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – The Complete Ella and Louie on Verve. Today’s post is the entree for the summer menu: a halibut wrapped in prosciutto served atop a creamy, homemade polenta. This is a flavorful, rustic recipe that borrows equally from both European & American influences. So I needed an album that also borrowed from European and American folk influences, but that also served as an excellent transition from Phoenix to Ella Fitzgerald. And Andrew Bird’s 2005 album, Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs, like this recipe, is a somewhat folksy album that borrows from European and American influences, and is therefore a perfect pairing. And what’s more, because Bird’s lush strand of indie-pop borrows from jazz and blues music, this record serves as a perfect bridge between the Phoenix album and the Ella & Louie record. Of course, most importantly, Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs is a simply outstanding record. It is a staggeringly ambitious album that most artists wouldn’t even attempt, let alone hope to actually achieve. Bird, however, makes it seem almost effortless. Head over to Musical Pairings @ eating/sf to read the rest of the review. –Matthew

Posted by Kasey

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Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

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