A couple weeks ago my friend, Dorita Pina took me to a fabulous meat market in downtown Tucson. This shop is packed with such a variety of wonderful products. Truly a cooks dream! We were served by Sean who was very knowledgeable of all their products and a delight to spend time with.
He told us that every week the store gets in two different fresh fishes. Sean is holding two beautiful Branzino’s. Both Dorita and I bought one. Branzino is a Mediterranean white fish known as the European bass. It has a mild, delicate flavor. I cooked with the head on, as Sean had just cooked the whole fish the night before and said the eyeballs were delicious! I can’t say I found them delicious, but didn’t find them unappealing either. These were my first eyeballs! There are a lot of bones in this fish, but it is well worth picking through them.
ROASTED BRANZINO IN LEMON CAPER BUTTER
1 Branzino; about 1 1/4 lbs.
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp; I used the leftover tarragon butter that I poached the cod in at Easter. The tarragon added a nice, almost sweet flavor to the fish. You will have lots of butter leftover.
1 Tbsp. capers
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 large rosemary sprig
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the butter with the capers, lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Keep at room temperature.
Run water down the cavity of the fish and using your finger remove any stuff that might still be in there; a trick my mother taught me. Dry with a paper towel. Season the branzino with salt and spread about 2 Tbsp. of the compound butter inside the fish coating both sides of the cavity. Add one sprig of rosemary to the inside of the fish. In a large cast iron or nonstick skillet, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil until shimmering. Add the branzino and cook over high heat until the skin is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.
Roast the fish in the oven for about 10 minutes until just cooked through. To serve, I filleted the fish to remove the back bone. It could have easily been served whole, 1 fish per person, but with brown rice and green peas it made a complete meal. Serve with about 1 Tbsp. of the Lemon Caper compound butter on the side.
This is not a pretty picture, but I wanted you to see his little head popping up.
My husband did not opt for the head. Lucky me, since we were splitting one fish, I got the whole thing!
I was impressed that Forbes Meat Company sells such a variety of meats, fish and poultry. They make their own sausages, cure their own bacon and make unbelievably huge meatballs! Here is the sausage, bacon, meatball freezer with Dorita trying to decide…
So many choices…it’s not easy. I wanted one of everything! The meatballs are about 3″ around.
I hope I’ve remembered this right, but I believe Sean told me they are made with 60% ground beef, 20% ground veal, and 20% ground pork. The fat ratio is perfect and they are spiced gently, but nicely. Last night I served them plain with some old fashioned corn and mashed sweet potatoes.
They were also delicious as a traditional spaghetti and meatball dinner with sauted zucchini and mushrooms.
From all of those beautiful sausages, I chose lamb merguez.
Merguez is a spicy lamb sausage originally from North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. They quickly became popular throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Western Europe. You don’t see them offered that much in America. The ground lamb is combined with spices, such as chili, cumin, harissa, garlic, fennel, sumac, etc. Recipes vary regionally. Although often grilled to bring out the smoky flavor, I decided to pan sear the merguez in a little olive oil, sliced the merguez and mixed with some rich cooked lentils and mushrooms that I had made the other day. I cooked the lentils in shallots, garlic and a pork/lamb broth. I always save the bones from our meat and just happened to have both pork and lamb and thought that would enhance the lamby flavor of the merguez. It did, but chicken stock would work well, too.
I love the way the spices ooze out when you slice the sausage and also love the texture of the finely minced lamb. Traditionally merguez sausage are quite thin, less than 1″ in diameter as lamb intestines are not huge, and links are made about 4″ long.
If you have not had lamb merguez you really must try it!
Forbes Meat Company also had some plump and luscious looking chicken feet! That is a product you do not see in US meat counters! I actually have only cooked them one time before when my husband, Jerry and I were in Virgin Gorda. I admit these may not be for everyone, but they are more tasty than you might believe and as they cook in chicken stock make a deeply, rich flavorful broth. The feet become very tender and meat falls off the bone!…so to speak!
In the Caribbean I made chicken feet soup and that is what I plan to do again.
To find the recipe, go to: http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=chicken+feet+soup
Forbes had a wonderful selection of wagyu beef and I had to buy the chicken feet! Oh well, my friend Dorita got some wagyu rib-eyes and said they were out of this world! I can’t wait to go back to Forbes! Thanks Sean for being so helpful on our fist (and not last!) visit to Forbes Meat Company.
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UNTIL NEXT TIME…
STAY ADVENTUROUS IN YOUR OWN KITCHEN!