Celebrate Christmas > The Greek Style I

Posted On December 15, 2006

Filed under Hellenic Food

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If Christmas is Greek to you or you’d just like it to be, you’re in luck! Jim Botsacos shares a Christmas menu straight from his new cookbook, “The New Greek Cuisine.”

Poached Grouper Mayonesa > Makes about 2 cups
This is my contemporary version of Athinaiki, a classic Greek dish. Traditionally, the fish is poached, boned, and molded into a fish shape, and decorated with thinly sliced carrots as scales and olives for eyes. Quite old-fashioned, but since the basic dish is so delicious, I thought it was worth reviving in this up-to-date version.

Ingredients >
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 2 tablespoons white vinegar
• 5 black peppercorns
• 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
• 1 carrot, thinly sliced
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
• Three 7-ounce grouper fillets, skin on
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped capers
• 1 tablespoon finely sliced fresh chives
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
• 1 cup Mayonnaise
• About 2 cups baby salad greens
• Pickled vegetables
• 6 slices Lagana or other crusty bread, toasted (optional)
For the Mayonnaise >
• 3 large egg yolks at room temperature
• 1 large egg at room temperature
• 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
• 1 1/4 cups canola oil
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method >
1. Place 2 quarts cold water in a large saucepan. Add the lemon juice, wine, and vinegar along with the peppercorns, celery, carrot, and onion. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Immediately lower the heat and add enough salt to highly season the liquid, about 1 tablespoon. Simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Place the fish in the simmering liquid. Loosely cover and lower the heat to a bare simmer. Poach the fish for about 10 minutes, or until the flesh is white and very tender. Remove from the heat and allow the fish to cool in the poaching liquid. When cool, using a slotted spatula, carefully transfer the fish to a cutting board.
3. Gently pull off the skin using your fingertips.
4. Using a kitchen fork or 2 spoons, carefully pull the fish into flakes. Place the fish flakes in a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until chilled.
5. Fold the lemon zest, capers, chives, and dill into the Mayonnaise. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and fold the Mayonnaise into the fish. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
6. Place a small mound of baby greens in the center of each of 6 plates. Top with about 3/4 cup of the fish mixture. Place a small amount of pickled vegetables around the plate and serve with toasted Lagana or other crusty bread if desired.

To make the Mayonnaise >
1. Combine the egg yolks, egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process for 1 minute. With the motor running, add one third of the canola oil in a slow, steady stream, processing to emulsify. Add 1 tablespoon of water and then another third of the oil and another tablespoon of water, processing to emulsify. If necessary to achieve mayonnaise consistency, add another tablespoon of water. With the motor running, add all of the remaining oil in a slow, steady stream, processing to emulsify completely.
2. Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.