Pan Sauted Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce | Image: Laura Messersmith

Each week I follow along with Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) and attempt to recreate one of her dishes in my tiny New York City kitchen. The catch? This is my version of cooking school and I’m making these recipes for the first time. I’ll share both my successes and um, challenges, along the way and we’ll see if I can keep up with the Contessa!

Episode: “Fast and Fabulous”

The Set-up: Ina’s friend Frank is coming for dinner and she’s cooking up a feast in no time flat.

The Menu: Mustard Roasted Fish, Dill Fingerling Potatoes, Parmesan Roasted Broccoli, Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc with Raspberry Sauce

0:24 – We start out with a little trip to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for dinner. I spy heavy cream, berries, and potatoes.

1:03 – Ina says she has two rules for fast dinners: 1. Really easy recipes and 2. Ingredients found in any typical grocery store.

2:41 – Naturally even though this dinner is coming together quickly Ina is still doing flowers.

3:13 – We’re back at the barn to work on dessert: Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc with a homemade Raspberry Sauce.

4:29 – I’m always fascinated to see the ways cooks use pre-made ingredients to perk-up their recipes. In this case, an entire jar of seedless raspberry jam (Tiptree Farms in case you’re wondering) helps thicken the sauce.

5:46 – Now for the fromage blanc which Ina is thinning non-ironically with heavy cream to make it somewhere between the consistency of pudding and softened ice cream.

11:07 – Ina is plating the “layered dessert” – fromage blanc, berries, raspberry sauce – and it looks so fresh and delicious. Perfect for summer.

12:45 – Just realized that Ina is wearing a beautiful white shirt while cooking bright red berries – this woman is brave!

13:38 – Time to set the table and for a simple dinner Ina has quite a lot going on – a bowl of apples, candles, flowers. I’m lucky if I can remember to put the salt and pepper shakers out!

14:22 – We’re moving on to the Dill Fingerling Potatoes and Ina is cooking them by part steaming, part sautéing in a large dutch oven. I tried this once and it does work, but it takes some patience.

15:17 – Onward to the Parmesan Roasted Broccoli and I can 100% vouch for cooking broccoli this way. It’s hands-down our favorite way to eat our veggies.

16:44 – The premise of this episode is that Ina is making a last minute dinner and usually I’m suspicious of so-called 30 minute meals, but so far I actually believe that this dinner could come together in an hour or so.

21:30 – Now for the main course: Mustard Roasted Fish, which involves cooking filets of red snapper under a sauce of crème fraiche and mustard.

22:19 – Ina says she got the recipe from the coat check attendant at her Parisian hairdresser. Naturally.

23:41 – The red snapper is in the oven with the broccoli and it’s time for a finishing sprinkle of fresh dill and salt on the potatoes. I love how golden and lightly crispy they look.

27:05 – Final touches on the Parmesan Roasted Broccoli – cheese, pine nuts, fresh basil, lemon zest. Sounds awesome.

28:26 – Dinner is plated up and ready to go just as Frank arrives right on time.

29:38 – He marvels at Ina’s ability to whip up dinner in under an hour, honey, she’s not the Barefoot Contessa for nothing!

Final Thoughts:
Ina touched on this briefly, but there’s a lot to be said for dishes that cook at the same temperature (ie. the fish and the broccoli.) Hello multi-tasking!

I love fresh herbs, but I’m a little concerned about the competing flavors (mustard, dill, basil, and parmesan?) I tend to stick to one flavor “palette” but maybe I’m not adventurous enough…

I’m with Ina on the need for great dinners that don’t take hours to make – the less prepping the better!

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:
I took some liberties with Ina’s Mustard Roasted Fish recipe to make my own version using greek yogurt instead of crème fraiche and cooking it on the stovetop in a pan, rather than in the oven. I discovered last year when I made Caesar Roasted Salmon (please forgive the less than awesome photos, I was still learning!) that roasted fish is pretty soft and with a creamy sauce there isn’t quite enough contrast in the texture to suit Mike and I. Pan sautéing the fish was my solve to that issue and since it only takes 5-6 minutes total it’s still a really quick meal.

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Creamy Mustard Sauce (yield: 4 servings)

4 (8-ounce) red snapper fillets, or other firm white fish
8 ounces Chobani 4% Plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons
Gulden’s spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon Maille Old-style whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon Coleman’s English mustard powder
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the 4% Chobani yogurt, spicy brown mustard, whole grain mustard, English mustard powder, minced shallots, drained capers, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Set aside while you cook the red snapper filets.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high-heat. Brush both sides of the red snapper filets with olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the fish fillets skin side down in the hot skillet.

Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Turn with a flexible metal spatula when the cooked portion reaches about halfway up the filet and it’s easy to slide the spatula between the skin and the pan. The thickness of the filet will determine exactly how long, but the fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done. 

Serve immediately with the mustard sauce spooned over the top and a small sprinkle of capers.

Inspired by and adapted from Ina Garten’s Mustard Roasted Fish.

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, indeed. I used an 8 inch cast iron skillet (2 filets at a time), metal spatula, small cutting board, chef’s knife, liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, and a tablespoon for mixing. That’s it! 

The Verdict:
Pan sautéing is my favorite way to cook fish because it adds great flavor and texture and in this case the red snapper works perfectly. It’s mild so the mustard sauce really shines – a little bit spicy and creamy it’s a perfect foil. The sauce pretty much enhanced everything I’ve served it with and I’m already planning new ways to incorporate it with other recipes.

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pan Sautéed Red Snapper with Mustard Sauce | Image: Laura Messersmith