Surf and Turf, French Laundry style


In a burst of energy (or perhaps a moment of weakness), I decided to have a go at another French Laundry recipe on Saturday night. I selected "Surf and Turf", braised oxtails with seared monkfish, topped with sauteed salsify and cepes. Pretty ambitious considering I was unsure of finding any of the main ingredients...

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Thus began the shopping trip. I started at my local farm market... no cepes or salsify there, but I got the makings for the brunoise and the braising liquid. Next morning, off I went again. At my first stop I found oxtails - ok I now had 1 of 4 main ingredients. I grabbed a package of crimini mushrooms just in case I couldn't find cepes. Then I moved onto the next store...

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As I neared the seafood counter, a glistening piece of monkfish caught my eye. But it was just one lonely piece - I had a bad feeling... I asked the fishmonger if it was fresh and he very honestly shook his head no... Well, that fish was not for me, thank you very much. I rounded the corner to produce and was greeted by a beautiful sight: a whole line of D'Artagnan gourmet mushrooms... But, no cepes. I grabbed come royal trumpets which worked out beautifully. No salsify there either. At that point I decided I could live without salsify, but I could not make surf and turf without the surf...

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I pulled into a little seafood market in Westfield, NJ, and walked in. I scanned the counter and saw two beautiful pieces of what looked like monkfish tail, but the sign said... catfish??? So I asked and I was right, monkfish! I carried my trreasure home and got started...

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In lieu of typing the entire recipe, I'm going to save myself from a case of carpal tunnel and instead share a link directly to it. Needless to say, I left out the salsify and we didn't miss it. The oxtails had a rich full flavor - similar to that of braised shortribs. The fish was mild, and perhaps a bit overpowered by the rich beef. The Royal Trumpet mushrooms were meaty and delicious atop the whole thing. I served it with a simple salad of mache, jicama and sliced avocado with a dijon vinaigrette. A dish I would definitely make again - perhaps after I try a few more of Keller's concoctions... So check back to see when I get the French Laundry out again!

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