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Jun 27, 2009 10:01 PM

If you were going to make an amazing "whitefish florentine" how would you do it?

I had a dish by this name maybe 20 years ago, and it was superb. I know a white fish, lemon, cream and either roasted or fresh tomatoes were involved, and a green (just a little) - might have been fresh spinach or something else.

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  1. Florentine generally means that spinach is going to be involved. Make a beschamel sauce, add in finely chopped spinach, and cook until the mixture is hot. You can use frozen spinach that has been defrosted and well-drained- put the spinach in a clean towel, bunch up the towel, and wring as much water out of the spinach as you can. Pan-sear or bake your whitefish fillets. Put some of the spinach mixture on the plate, put whitefish on top (or switch it around and put the sauce on top of the fish, it's your plating), and garnish with diced fresh tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon. I think some polenta would make a nice accompaniment, as would some sauteed spinach or broccoli rabe.

    This is almost certainly not how it would have come out 20 years ago, but I'll bet it's still going to be mighty tasty.

    *edits a few minutes later*
    Aha! I poked through a cookbook I recently picked up, The Frog Commissary Cookbook, which was originally published in the 80s. Turns out there's a recipe in here for Chicken Florentine, and it looks like it's going to come quite close. I'd probably add more spinach than what they call for, but this is because I like spinach. Turns out I was close- it's actually going to be Mornay sauce, which is beschamel with cheese.

    4 ounces fresh spinach
    1/4 c butter
    1/4 c flour
    2-3/4 c milk
    3/4 tsp salt
    3/4 tsp pepper
    1/8 tsp nutmeg
    1/8 tsp cayenne
    1/2 c grated Parmesan

    2 large fresh tomatoes
    1 lb fresh spinach fettuccine
    1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    8 whitefish filets
    1/4 c butter
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper

    Wash the spinach, don't dry it, and cook it until wilted. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, drain, and squeeze in a towel until very dry. Finely chop the spinach, and set it aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 or 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently until thickened. Add the various seasonings and Parmesan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Add the spinach and set aside while preparing the fish.

    Cut the tomatoes into 8 thick slices. Cook the pasta in 1 gallon boiling water with 1 Tbsp salt added to it until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water, and toss with olive oil. Set aside while preparing the fish. Pan-sear the whitefish until done to your liking. You might wish to try dredging it with a bit of flour seasoned with salt and pepper before pan-frying in clarified butter, it's quite nice that way. Remove the fish from the pan to a holding plate in a 200° oven. Gently reheat the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the pasta, salt, and pepper, and toss to combine. Cover the saucepan, and reheat the pasta, stirring occasionally. While the pasta is reheating, saute the tomato slices in a skillet (the same one you used for the fish) on medium heat for a couple minutes on each side.

    To plate, put some of the pasta on a plate, top with fish, spoon some sauce over the fish, and top with a tomato slice.

    Note that if you want to you can try cooking everything at the same time, but wouldn't you rather be a little more relaxed in the kitchen for a change? You can even prep the mornay sauce and pasta earlier in the day (or the night before) and keep them in the fridge until you're ready to use them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      Wow, thank you. That sounds delish - I will have to make this and report back. The dish I had was without pasta and it was pretty light (except for cream) - no cheese involved to my knowledge. However, I certainly like the idea of the above and will give it a whirl too. (I can see this becoming a project... 101 night of fish, tomatoes, cream and spinach.)