I remember having a dish like this one at a restaurant in Ottawa, quite a few years ago.
Unfortunately, the restaurant in question no longer exists, but it is very easy to recreate it at home. There are a few steps involved, but the result is worth the effort.
The combination of seared halibut, aromatic white beans, the garlicky greens and the rich beef and red wine sauce is memorable.
You can perfectly use store-bought beef stock for this recipe however, remember to buy No Salt Added beef broth because you have to reduce it to almost nothing. Salted broth, even low sodium, will be unpalatable. Because of the acidity of the wine, you have to add a bit of brown sugar to mellow it out, but the final product will not be sweet.
For 4 servings:
For the dish:
4 halibut fillets
1 bunch swiss chard, cooked as directed below
dried white kidney beans, cooked as directed below
beef and red wine sauce, recipe follows
fleur de sel (optional)
For the beans:
1 cup dried white kidney or cannellini beans
2 cloves garlic, whole
5 black peppercorns
1 bunch (3 leaves and one stem) fresh sage
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. First, cover the beans in cold water overnight. Drain.
2. Put the beans in a large pot, along with 5 cups water and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, and cook, partially covered, until the beans are tender, anywhere from one hour to 90 minutes. Alternatively, cook them in a pressure cooker. Bring the pot to pressure, then count 8-12 minutes and depressurize rapidly by running cold water on the cover.
3. Once the beans are cooked, add 1 or 2 teaspoons kosher salt and let them rest in the cooking liquid for at least 15 minutes.
4. Drain and remove solids. Keep warm.
For the sauce:
2 cups No Salt Added beef or veal broth
2 cups dry red wine
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a saucepan, bring the beef stock, wine and brown sugar to boil and boil, uncovered, until it starts to thicken a bit. This should take about 30 minutes. You should be left with about 1/2 a cup of liquid after reduction.
2. Cut the butter in small cubes and, off the heat, whisk it in until melted.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
For the swiss chard:
1. Wash the swiss chard and remove the stalk. Cut the leaves in 1 inch squares and chop the stalk crosswise in thin strips.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the chopped stems. Cook for a few minutes, then add the chopped leaves. Cook for another couple of minutes, until everything is tender.
3. Drain in a colander and set aside.
To finish the dish:
Set the oven to 400 °F.
1. Put a skillet on medium high heat to cook the fish. When hot, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, for two minutes.
2. Turn the fish skin side up and transfer to the oven. Cook for 6-9 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
3. While the fish is in the oven, heat some olive oil in another pan over medium heat, add the garlic and toss for 20 seconds, then add the swiss chard and toss gently until reheated. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
4. To serve, take a warm plate, place beans on the bottom, add a few carefully placed tablespoons of sauce around the beans, then add swiss chard on the beans, and finally, put the fish on top. Add a bit of fleur de sel on the cooked fish and serve at once.